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Edmonton's pilot project wont impact snow removal in St. Albert: city

John Potter, the manager of transportation, operations, and waste, said, to the best of his knowledge, St. Albert doesn't share contractors with Edmonton.
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A grader and bobcats work to clear snow along Langley Avenue in St. Albert on Jan. 6, 2019. The city says its policy is to remove snow once snowpack in driving lanes reaches between six and nine centimetres. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

John Potter, the manager of transportation, operations, and waste, wants to assure St. Albert residents that a new pilot project in Edmonton won’t affect the city’s ability to clear snow in residential neighbourhoods.

On Dec. 17 Edmonton city council unanimously passed a budget for a pilot project that will see residential roads in Edmonton cleared to the bare pavement after weather events.

The Edmonton project will enhance snow clearing standard for Priority 4 (residential) roads until April 30, 2022.

The enhancement would include blading down as close as possible to bare pavement and sanding, especially at intersections within communities, after major snow and ice events, said Philip Herritt, director of infrastructure operations, parks, and roads services in Edmonton.

The pilot is similar to St. Albert’s residential snow-removal policy, which sees removal after six to nine centimetres of snowpack has accumulated in the driving lanes.

Edmonton Coun. Erin Rutherford brought the motion forward because she thinks people will be able to clearly see their tax dollars at work.

“I think, when we've talked a lot about wanting to see value for tax dollars, I think that this is a clear example of where, when people see their roads are maintained in the winter, and especially in the residential, we're going to start to see more people seeing that their tax dollars at work,” she said.

Potter said he can’t comment on the pilot project specifically, but said this pilot project will not impact the City of St. Albert’s ability to clear snow in a timely manner.

“It hasn't impacted our ability to bring in additional resources as required to meet service levels, and I don't anticipate that it will,” he said.

The pilot project in Edmonton has already begun.

Herritt said Edmonton has already incorporated the enhancements in the snow and ice control operations, happening right now, as a part of the Phase 2 parking ban. 

Potter said St. Albert did a residential snowplow two weeks ago and had no trouble getting equipment.

“[We] had the same amount of equipment that we normally request to perform that operation efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Potter.

Potter said, to the best of his knowledge, St. Albert doesn't share contractors with Edmonton.

“The way companies sign up, we use the same list of equipment probably for the most part. I'm not aware of any exclusive contracts that other municipalities may have, but to my knowledge, it hasn't been an issue,” said Potter.

Potter said the only time St. Albert has issues getting equipment is during certain times in the winter.

“I've been doing this job now for about 17 or 18 years, specifically in the snow business … from my experience, it's usually tougher to get contractors before Christmas than after.

“That's just because they've come off a road-building season where their operators and their team members have put in long hours, and they're on vacation until kind of the new year,” he said.