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Snow clearing improvements could cost $380k in Dryden

By Ryan Forbes Mar 6, 2023 | 7:00 AM

The City of Dryden’s Senior Leadership Team is taking another look at residents’ concerns surrounding snow clearing and build-ups at the end of driveways after their street gets plowed.

But as staff explain, improving the service would likely cost taxpayers another $380,000 each year.

Dryden City Council met on February 27 for their regular Council meeting, where Public Services Manager Blake Poole was tasked with preparing a report on snow-clearing efforts in Dryden.

The report follows an Open Meeting from October 2022 – where the previous batch of Councillors discussed adding a Winter Driveway Windrow Clearing Service, but due to cost and liability concerns, the proposal didn’t move forward.

Now, residents have asked the city and its new Councillors to take another look at the proposal.

Poole’s report explains the city’s current budget, equipment and manpower don’t allow for crews to spend the time removing snow windrows from driveways after plowing at this time, and additional heavy equipment would be required – as well as hiring and training new operators.

He says the additional work would also take crews two to three times as long to clear local roadways – leading to a major increase in staffing costs – estimated to be $381,000 each year.

Another option Poole’s report details is to hire a private contractor for the city, which would cost about $125 per hour, but they would have to remain on standby in case of a major winter event and the city would have to navigate liability concerns with the service.

While the city does have a program to assist seniors with snow-clearing efforts, Poole explains only five or six seniors are currently utilizing the program as you must qualify for the program, and it’s tough to get to those seniors with other priorities like parking lots, back lanes and more.

Later, Councillor Bill Latham brought up the potential use of a ‘snow gate’ being used in Ignace. It’s an additional piece of machinery attached to the side of a grader, which helps clear away additional build-ups of snow and ice.

Mayor Jack Harrison said he’s spoken with Mayor Bill Gascon on its use – and explained due to a variety of issues with the gate, Ignace isn’t using it anymore and is offering to sell it to Dryden. Ignace bought it in 2021.

“They had one on their grader that came down, but it’s basically not that functional anymore,” Harrison explains.

“They parked it. It slows down the grader quite considerably. Instead of taking 2 days, it would take 4 days. That’s unacceptable. It’s for sale if we want to buy it, but I turned him down. That didn’t pan out.”

Poole explains Dryden has previously looked at the equipment, but explains it slows down snow-clearing operations significantly and can damage infrastructure and roadways in the process.

“Once you get a lot of snow, it takes 30 to 40 per cent more time,” says Poole. “Kenora also has one. It’s sitting in their back 40. It’s difficult with streets that curve, cul-de-sacs, intersections. It’s not what it shows to be in the advertisement.”

Poole notes Minimum Maintenance Standards set forth by the province require that crews clear specific roads within a set period of time – which need to be taken into consideration.

Dryden’s Council of 2019 also looked at the use of a GPS tracking system to track plows and avoid having to re-shovel the end of your driveway. The City of Toronto uses a similar system and Dryden’s plows have the same technology – but it’s currently only being used for Public Works purposes.

As of now, no snow-clearing operation changes are expected moving forward.

Residents are reminded to not pass an operating snowplow and to always remain a safe distance back when they see blue flashing lights.


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