Snow Removal in Prince George
By Nicole Halseth, News Editor
A report on snow and ice clearing operations was presented to the Prince George City Council on 20 January 2014. Though the city council does not address the day-to-day operations of snow clearing, it does have control over snow clearing policies. The report was meant to address the many problems and complaints that have arisen over the past few weeks over the issue of snow and ice clearing on Prince George streets. The report spurred an hour long discussion over how to address the numerous complications involved with this issue.
Bill Gaal, operations superintendent, discussed recent rumours that have emerged accusing the city of not being adequately prepared for the winter with sufficient machinery, and that the city was keeping snowplows parked in order to save money. According to an article by the Prince George Citizen, he addressed these concerns by saying “snow fleet size has not been reduced. We do have operators.” He also said that the city of Prince George had been borrowing equipment to aid in their operations from such organizations as the Prince George Airport Authority, Columbia Bitulithic, as well as neighbouring communities.
Numerous other views emerged throughout the discussion. Some councilors called for broader discussion, and even suggested the formation of a committee set to deal exclusively with these issues. It seems many councilors are in agreement that the current policy needs to be reassessed. Councilor Albert Koehler stated that “past practices may have worked, but they may not work anymore.”
However, it seems that not every councilor is in agreement. Councilor Dave Wilbur said “no matter what you plan, it’s not always going to work out… accept that stuff happens, and get on with it.” According to the article by the Prince George Citizen, Mayor Shari Green was against the formation of a committee, and that “she’d rather the initiative come from staff, not a knee-jerk reaction to a community outpouring of frustration.” The council is set to continue discussions on this matter, following another report to be presented to the council at a meeting on 24 February.
According to the City of Prince George Snow Operations website, the city budgeted $4.842 million and actually spent $5.299 for snow and ice expenses in 2012, the most recent statistics available. The city has typically budgeted around $4 million for snow and ice expenses each year in the past decade. The city, through the Transportation Division and using various private sector services and equipment, is responsible for plowing sidewalks (along major streets) and roads, usually based on routes established with garbage collection schedules in mind. During “snow emergencies and major storms,” the city is supposed to regulate snow and ice services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overall, the City’s Transportation Division is responsible for the maintenance of 670 kilometers of roads in the area. According to Gaal, the city has a five day completion goal for snow and ice clearing that they try to meet. More information can be found at: http://princegeorge.ca/cityservices/transportation/snowoperations/Pages/Default.aspx
All long-suffering citizens in Prince George who drive a car or otherwise deal with the inconveniences of winter in other ways will be eagerly awaiting improvements to current snow and ice clearing policy.