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‘I’ll be honest. We were challenged.’ Calgary snow route parking ban as storm pummels city

Calgary will have its first snow route parking ban of the fall, er, winter season, after an autumn snowstorm dumped as much as 30 to 35 centimeters in some parts of the city.

The parking ban will come into effect at 10 a.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect for 72 hours, or until the city declares it ended.

Traffic was snarled and more than 80 buses were stranded on Calgary roadways during peak hours, making for a tense commute Tuesday. Both the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Waste and Recycling units were brought in to help pull them out.

The city’s Emergency Operations Center was opened, bringing all of the resources needed to deal with the ongoing situation under one roof to deal with the largest October snowfall in a 24 hour period in 60 years.

“We had a bit of a tough start, but I’m proud with how we’ve been moving forward,” said Tom Sampson, Chief of Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency.

The tough start was the result of the snow timing, city officials said. The city’s roads department was aware of the impending snow but having heavy accumulation so quickly prior to peak morning hours presented challenges, said City roads maintenance manager, Bill Biensch.

“With this storm it was timing. We had wet roads at 11 last night,” said Biensch.

“A number of bands of heavy accumulation came in. Those stayed on the road. We had 19 cm over very short period of time. It makes it very hard to clear the entire network.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Calgary Police reported 251 collisions between 11 p.m. Monday and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Calgary Transit manager Doug Morgan said with dozens of buses out of commission, it made for a troubling commute.

“I’ll be honest. We were challenged,” said Morgan, noting that they ask bus drivers to come to a stop as close to the curb as possible, and that’s where they were getting stuck.

Morgan said they’d be working hard to improve drive home for transit commuters but asked that Calgarians be prepared for some delays. He said they’re asking Calgary Transit clients in hilly areas to go to the detour stops so that buses aren’t required to go up and down the hills where they’re more likely to get stuck.

Biensch said the city roads department is still on summer scheduling, working on road paving, and they had to ask some workers to stay late and others to come in early to fill snow clearing crews.

RELATED: PHOTOS/POLL: Calgary at a standstill after fall storm blankets the city

Their typical winter schedule doesn’t start until Oct. 15, and despite that, when the call went out to their outside contractors, 85 per cent were able to help.

He said there were 16 graders and 43 trucks out on Calgary roads and they would be running full tilt until the roads situation was under control.

That’s one reason the snow route parking ban is in place.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi reiterated the need for the snow route parking ban, even if sunny skies and warmer temperatures were forecast for Wednesday.

“With the turn in the weather, we should be able to get this under control relatively quickly,” he said.

He noted that a Facebook reminder came up today and it showed snow on Oct. 2 in 2017, too.

“So maybe this is a thing now,” he said.

Nenshi said all departments were working hard to make things better for the afternoon drive home.

“We anticipate the afternoon rush hour will be better than the morning, but still not great,” Nenshi said.

“As I always say, you can’t plow it before it falls.”

Calgarians can check out the city’s website for more information on the snow route parking ban.