The topic of the new walking trail extension and barriers on the hill on 50 St. and snow removal came up during Ponoka town council’s regular meeting on Jan. 11, with some councillors voicing the hill is a problem area.
Coun. Teri Underhill started the discussion, saying the town’s snow removal policy feels “completely different” this year.
She added that comments she’s heard from residents are that the snow removal done last year was great, but this winter it’s been terrible.
One of the concerns is the hill on 50 St. where it meets Highway 53.
“It’s not working,” said Underhill, adding there have been three separate accidents she’s heard of on social media at that location.
“That road was not plowed. That road was not sanded. If you hit that wrong, or you hit a patch of ice, you’re going to hit those barriers and it’s too narrow,” she said.
“I am significantly concerned about the snow plowing and the amounts of complaints I’ve fielded within the last five weeks … I do think that we need to come up with some idea with respect to that roadway because it’s just not working in my opinion.”
Chief administrative officer Sandra Lund said that improvements will be made to bring the snow removal up to the standard that administration has.
“Your concerns are warranted,” said Lund. “Before you had even brought this forward, we’d already identified improvements that are required. These issues have all been addressed with the staff as of today.”
Coun. Clayton Nelson noted that just because three incidents at that location were posted on social media, that doesn’t necessarily mean there have been more accidents this year compared to last year.
Underhill responded that this is the first time they’re seeing this type of accident at that hill.
“People are taking that corner and because our ice control is not, maybe, what it should have been, and because it’s (only) so wide, they’re hitting the barriers,” said Underhill.
Coun. Ted Dillon interjected that in one of the accidents, the person had admitted they were going too fast for the road conditions.
“Regardless of whether they were going too fast or not, the argument is going to be, on the other side, that perhaps if the abutment was not there, that there would’ve been more room to not collide with it,” said Coun. Cal David.
Coun. Sandra Lyon said while she’s heard the same complaints, it should be noted that there has been a significant amount of snow fall in the last six weeks and last year was a mild winter.
Coun. Carla Prediger agreed that snow removal and the hill on 50 St. are concerns.
“I really think administration needs to reconsider that,” said Prediger.
She then brought up another problem area, on 53 Ave., which has become the go-to route for trucks.
According to Prediger, three people she knows have hit “the mound” and spun out.
Lund reported that snow removal crews will likely take a couple of weeks to clear priority routes and the downtown core before they are able to go out into residential areas.
“There’s room for improvement, most definitely,” said Mayor Kevin Ferguson, regarding snow removal.
Commenting on the 50 St. issue, he said he knows it’s an issue for a lot of folks who are adjusting to the change.
“I’d ask people to be careful … we’ve talked about 50th before and that’s still a project that we’re still taking a good hard look at in terms of whether or not it continues.”
He added that the left turn there has always been dangerous, and will continue to be, regardless of the walking path barriers.
Crosswalk signs and lights are currently in the process of being installed at the top of the hill on 50 St.
The walking trail extension is part of the town’s initiative to make Ponoka a more walkable community, which was a key recommendation in the town’s Recreation Master Plan, the Downtown Action Plan and the Transportation Master Plan.