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Snow Talk - January 2022

January 27, 2022 - City of Saskatoon Roadways Manager responds to the questions we're getting asked most through our customer care centre and on our social media channels. Responses are also available below the video.

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

WHEN WILL YOU MOVE SNOW PILES ON PRIORITY STREETS?

 

  • The snow we’ve graded into the outside lanes and onto medians is piling up. We understand, the loss of parking, visibility issues and some narrow streets can be frustrating.
  • The number one priority when it comes to winter road maintenance is keeping the main streets clear for driving, to keep everyone moving around the city. This includes Circle Drive, arterial roads, and collector streets – the streets with the most traffic, affecting the most people. When it snows - no matter what work we’re doing, like snow removal - we will pause on it to go plow and grade the priority streets.
  • City crews started hauling away snow from priority one streets in mid-January; however, this was paused a few times so our crews could respond to new snow falls.
  • As soon as we finish cleaning up from a snow event, we will get back to removing the snow from the priority 1 streets, then keep moving through the priority 2 and 3 streets.  There is a lot of work to do, so it is going to take some time. 

 

Snow Pile Safety 

Did you know? The snow piles are not secure enough to climb on and contain debris from the street that can be dangerous. Please help children resist the urge to climb on or build tunnels through the piled up snow along the side of the road.

 

WHY IS THE SNOW LEFT ON THE SIDE OF THE STREET WHEN THE CITY GRADES?

 

  • There is a Winter Roads service level that defines the grading, plowing, snow removal and sanding standards. This has a defined budget that is approved by City Council, paid for with property tax dollars, so we’re careful to keep that spending in line.
  • The service level for grading after a snow fall is to leave the snow along the parking lane or on boulevards, and to be removed when there is no place left for the next snow fall. There is no maximum height in our service level for the snow piles left along priority streets from grading.
  • The exception is in school zones, where the service level is to keep designated loading areas cleared and remove the snow piles as they reach 60 cm for the safety of students. This year, the snow piles were hauled away from almost all school zones twice nd more locations will by the end of January.
  • Removing snow piles requires different and more equipment, takes longer and costs a lot more than grading the streets and storing the snow in place. It requires parked vehicles to be moved and is best done at night when traffic is light.

 

Night Work Beeping

Did you know? Winter road maintenance that is slow moving and involves different kinds of equipment, like snow removal, is best done at night. The loud beeping can really carry at night, so many of the City-owned graders and other equipment have a "white noise" back up alarm that sounds like "swish-swish" and is less  likely to disturb residents in the middle of the night. The City's road maintenance is exempt from the Noise Bylaw. Watch Your City: Improved Back-up Alarms.

 

WHY DOESN’T THE CITY REMOVE THE SNOW AT THE SAME TIME IT’S GRADED? WHY DO YOU LEAVE THE SNOW PILES IN THE FIRST PLACE?

 

  • After a major snowfall, our goal is to get all priority streets graded in 72 hours – faster if we can. Grading snow and storing it on the streets means that streets get graded faster. 
  • Removal of the snow piles takes a lot more equipment and personnel, so it’s slower and costly.   

 

WHY DID THE CITY STOP REMOVING SNOW FROM EVERY CITY STREET?

 

  • For as long as anyone on our road maintenance team can remember, there hasn’t been city-wide snow removal in the regular budget. Until November 2020, of course.  
  • That was a one-time effort that required extra contractor help, as people couldn’t get out of their streets and there wasn’t enough space to put the snow. If we ever have that much snow in one storm again, you will see something similar as part of our emergency response plan.
  • In a normal winter, hiring contractors for snow removal is not in the budget allocated to winter road maintenance. These decisions are made during budget deliberations when priorities are weighed and the service level and budgets are approved by City Council.

 

Fire Hydrant Clearance

Did you know? In case of a fire, firefighters need to be able to spot and access fire hydrants quickly to protect people and property. If you have a hydrant located on or near your property, help SFD’s firefighters by keeping the hydrant free of snow and ice. A clear and unobstructed radius of one metre (3 feet) should be maintained around the hydrant. Learn more about fire hydrants.

 

WHY HAVE SNOW ROUTE SIGNS, IF YOU DON’T DECLARE THEM?

 

  • Great question. As the City grows, we’ve adjusted the way we respond to grading priority streets after it snows. This is the priority 1, 2 and 3 street system that we can get through in 72 hours. If we were to declare a Snow Route parking ban, people would get parking tickets and be towed, which are steps that would also delay the grading. The way we do it now is effective for clearing driving lanes and goes around parked vehicles to keep some parking spaces. The City is reviewing whether we need the Snow Route program anymore.

 

WHEN ARE YOU GRADING THE REST OF THE STREETS IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS?

 

  • Our service level is that we do not grade residential streets after every snowfall.  Residential streets are only graded if we get the “big one” – a major snowfall like we experienced in November of 2020 where cars couldn’t move on the streets. If this happened again, we would activate the new emergency response plan for a coordinated approach.
  • We will go into residential streets near the end of winter as the weather begins to warm up only if the snowpack is more than 6” deep. This grading will prevent the formation of deep ruts that can damage vehicles during the freeze/thaw cycle heading into the spring melt.
  • If we do residential rut grading, the snow piles will remain along the side of the street until it melts.     

 

Collection Cart Placement

Did you know? Your front-street collection cart should be placed in front of a snow pile on collection day and returned to your property that evening. Look for cart placement graphics at saskatoon.ca/cartcare under Winter Collection.