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Division of labour: Peculiar patterns in Calgary snow clearing effort

When Mike Morrison spotted two brow-raising intersections of snow, he thought, “here we go again.”

Morrison took a video over the weekend and posted a photo Monday of snow-clearing efforts around the Sunnyside CTrain station. 

In the video, it shows a nicely swept platform area, leading to a snow-packed ramp area. The photo shows a ‘V’ intersection where one leg was cleared, the other not, and both on City of Calgary property.

“My frustration over the past few years in the snow clearing here is we’re missing the obvious. We’re missing the easy places,” Morrison said.

He said he didn’t necessarily fault the operator.

“Maybe it’s the system they’re working in where they didn’t feel empowered to continue up the ramp to help finish the job,” he said.  

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Areas divided between departments, the city said

Stephen Tauro with Calgary Transit communications said that depending on the location, there could be a number of parties responsible for snow clearing in an area.

“In the case of that tweet, essentially Calgary Transit is responsible for clearing the CTrain portion of it,” Tauro said.

“Our city partners would be doing the plus 15 area.”

Tauro said that during a snow event they do their best to coordinate those snow clearing efforts. He said sometimes crews aren’t working that the same location. In some cases, it’s unavailable manpower.

“There are so many variables that go into it and we coordinate the best we can, but sometimes it’s just not possible to do it,” he said.

Morrison said clearly the system isn’t working. He doesn’t see the efficiency of having different city departments covering the same area. Especially areas literally adjacent to one another.

“It’s ironic because as citizens, we’re asked to keep shoveling, continue on to your neighbour’s to help people out,” he said, referring to the city’s annual Snow Angel program.  

“As departments, they’re not doing that. They’re looking at the edge of the line and saying, ‘That’s not me. I’m leaving.’”

Tauro said there are “quite a number of locations” where this kind of duty-split system is in place. But he said relative to the number, they aren’t as disjointed as it might seem.

“The number of times it happens in this fashion is rare,” he said.

FROM THE CBC: What it would cost to have the snow clearing other cities enjoy

Better solution coming?

Tauro said Calgary Transit understands that Calgarians, like Morrison, seeing these Calgary snow clearing situations, would find them odd.

They’re looking at other ways to deliver the service.

“It’s something we’re looking at internally, and hopefully we’ll have a better answer shortly,” said Tauro.

“We do our best to coordinate it, even though there are different people looking after it.”

Again, Morrison said it could be the culture.

“Maybe someone doesn’t feel that the safety of citizens is their responsibility,” he said.

“That’s why we’re snow clearing. We’re not snow clearing for fun, we’re snow clearing to keep people as safe for as long as possible.”

Tauro said Calgarians who see these situations can always reach out to the Calgary Transit call centre at 403-262-1000 or reach out to them on Twitter.

He said it allows them to document the area and ensure it’s followed up by crews.

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