Edmontonians frustrated with cul-de-sac snow clearing

Winter’s end can’t come soon enough for some Edmontonians. 

More people have called 311 to complain about snow removal this winter compared to last, according to city officials who spoke at Wednesday’s council meeting. Specific numbers were not provided.

Several councillors said they, too, have been getting more complaints about snow removal operations.

Of those complaints, many have been from residents who live on a cul-de-sac and are waiting for bladers to come through, said Coun. Andrew Knack.

“It was about four weeks ago that I started to see a pretty substantial pick up, to the point where I think it’s far more than I’ve seen in any year that I’ve been on council,” said Knack.

The cul-de-sac conundrum

The city’s approach to snow removal on cul-de-sac streets differs from other roads in the city.

Crews clear roads based on the city’s snow and ice clearing policy, which is currently a priority-clearing system. But culs-de-sac are not actually part of the policy, according to parks and roads spokesperson Zak Fairbrother.

Culs-de-sac are bladed after residential streets, he said. In part, that’s because they require special blading equipment.

In an emailed statement, Fairbrother said the city currently doesn’t have the equipment to blade culs-de-sac “due to the tight-turning radiuses,” so a contractor takes on the job. 

The city did not specify how many culs-de-sac exist in Edmonton; cul-de-sac blading will start next week.

We essentially have two standards of treatment.– Ward 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell

Ward 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell, who has also received numerous complaints, said it’s unacceptable for the city to offer substandard snow clearing for residents who live in a cul-de-sac.

“I do have a concern about where this leads,” said Cartmell.  

“We essentially have two standards of treatment. One for residential streets and another for residential streets that are cul-de-sacs. It’s an equity piece there. It’s not clear and at the very least we need to clear that up and clearly communicate to people what they can expect.”

Cartmell said any future discussions should be about making the city’s snow removal policy work for all residents. 

“Clearly our constituents are not happy with the level of service that is being provided. I think we need to analyze that and examine why our constituents might be feeling that way and how to improve the situation for them,” Cartmell said Thursday.

Councillors will resume their snow removal discussions Friday morning. 

City administration will bring any proposed changes to the snow removal policy to council in June. 

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