December 10, 2023

With conditions ripe for cold, white precipitation on the horizon, the City of Calgary’s snow removal crews are ready to hit the streets when snow does fall.

This year, the city’s snow team has adjusted its approach with the aim to better serve Calgarians.

“Accessibility is going to be a large a major priority for us this year,” said Chris Hewitt, the city’s manager of mobility maintenance.

“We are now taking care of everything from pathways to the city-controlled sidewalks, bridge overpasses, roads. And so we’ve been able to restructure things a little bit: we’re expecting a much smoother transition from one travel mode to the next (for citizens),” he said. “We’ll be looking at continually increasing how accessible the (city’s mobility) network is for everyone.”

The city is aiming to expand the amount of the pathway system it clears following snow events by 150 kilometres. Calgary is home to 1,100 kilometres of pathways, and the additional clearing will move this year’s expected pathway clearance to 750 kilometres.

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Rare June snowfall warning in the Rocky Mountains, Marmot Basin shares snow photos

Hewitt said of the $54 million in this calendar year’s budget for snow and ice control, more than half – $31 million – is still available through December. And emergency snow funds are nearly at their $15 million cap.

“We’re looking good, budget-wise.”

Hewitt also said all supplementary contractors are in place. When needed, they clear snow by hand, along pedestrian paths, and help on the roads during larger storms.

The city is also launching a trial in the northwest of using smaller equipment to help clear Priority Two roads, major roads through communities that often have bus routes, while larger equipment is working on major thoroughfares. Results from that trial will inform the decision on whether to expand that tactic to the rest of the city.

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“We want to try to keep those priority routes moving a little better, concurrently with everything else,” Hewitt said on Thursday.

Following the passing of a new provincial law, blue lights will be added to the usual amber on city snow-clearing equipment.

Declaring a snow parking ban is still part of the city’s plan, where needed. The last time one was called was in 2018.

“We haven’t really found ourselves in a time, over the last few years, where we’ve had enough consecutive snow without any melt that we were worried about snow capacity,” Hewitt said.

“We will be looking this year, and I think if we have some of those larger events, we will be looking to call a parking ban, so that we can get everything cleared up.”

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