Councillors approve updated snow clearing policy

After months of planning — and just in time for winter — Ponoka’s new snow removal policy has been approved by council.

After months of planning — and just in time for winter — Ponoka’s new snow removal policy has been approved by council.

The snow clearing and ice control policy for the Town of Ponoka was discussed Oct. 23. CAO Brad Watson said there have been some changes to last year’s proposal, mainly in wording.

“We’ve changed words from snow hauling to clearing, hauling comes later,” he explained.

Mike Lewis, director of operations and property services, said the town will not dump snow on the Ponoka Stampede Association land west of St. Augustine Catholic School this year as the property has been rezoned.

Mayor Larry Henkelman suggested contractors should be notified of the decision not to dump snow on that land. “Especially if there is a large dump of snow.”

Coun. Shayne Steffen suggested the maps of the plan be updated to include new annexed land.

Watson said contractors will be notified of the snow dumping change and he will have the maps updated.

Coun. John Jacobs was concerned with salt being damaging to landowners’ lawns. Lewis said the amount of salt used to melt the ice is not enough to damage the grass. He used an example of his previous work in Lacombe where they studied the effect on spruce trees, which are more sensitive.

“There wasn’t enough salt when the ice melted to hurt the spruce. And they are highly susceptible to salt,” he explained.

He also feels the way the salt melts the ice helps give drivers traction on the roads. “It’s the shape of the rock that gives you the traction, not the ice.”

Snow clearing and ice control typically occurs between Nov. 1 and March 31.

Normal clearing is conducted Monday to Friday unless the director sees a need for overtime work.

Other than in an emergency, snow clearing will cease when it is colder than -40 degrees C. Priorities are on emergency routes and will begin when there is an accumulation of 10 centimetres of snow. CAO Brad Watson said those specific routes would give the police, the Ponoka Fire Department and ambulances safe access to the highways.

Blading the roads rather than grading is the focus for town staff. Watson feels it will give residents a way to travel through town instead of getting stuck. For residential streets, staff will “blade to one side, probably the even numbers on the even years, the odd numbers in the odd years.”

Those who will have snow pushed to their side of the street might also have snow piles in front of their driveways. Residents will receive notice from the town that staff will clear snow piles in a timely manner.

“We live in Alberta, we have snow and we’re going to undertake clearing it to make it better,” said Watson.

In the previous plan, hauling snow from downtown streets was the second priority, but in times of excess snow it meant other areas became neglected. The new snow clearing policy still gives downtown streets priority clearing, mainly to blade the snow off the road.

Other items on the plan include:

• Only major roads with high volume will be cleared to the road surface.

• Residential roadways that are not a designated priority will be cleared if the director deems driving conditions to be difficult.

• Primary ice control priorities are: intersections at traffic lights; railway crossings, bridges and corners on arterial roadways; railway crossings, bridges, and corners on collector roads on collector roads; and hills.

• Criteria for service level priorities: 1. Traffic volume. 2. Road classification. 3. Special conditions such as roadway, geometry and terrain with regard to emergency service routes.

• Snow clearing in the residential areas will rotate from Lucas Heights, the north end and central end of town, and Riverside.