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Calgary snow questions: Sanding outdoor rinks; private snow clearing

Snow questions came up at Calgary city council Monday, including one that may have been rubbing people the wrong way.

And it just so happens there’s no truth to the rumour.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas said he’d been receiving photos from Calgary residents showing the alleged use of sand by city workers around Calgary outdoor rinks.

“I understand that other cities, such as Chestermere, have been sanding storm ponds to prevent skating because the road salt and other runoff can cause the ice to be thinner, weaker and toxic,” said Coun. Farkas.  

“But just for clarity, what is the exact practice and policy here in Calgary?”

City of Calgary Community Services GM Katie Black said this is not the case. They recognize the need for people to get outside during COVID-19.

“I can clarify that we have not, and do not plan to sand the natural or outdoor ice surfaces, as a means to prevent skating,” Black said.

Black said at some of the natural lagoons they have increased signage to warn Calgarians of the dangers. They also looking at ways to address the growing concern of people skating on the Glenmore Reservoir.

This is not allowed.

“Recreation activity on the reservoir is not permitted. because of course it’s a source of drinking water for Calgarians, and the ice surface can be unstable,” Black said.

Good Samaritans removing snow

Another snow question was directed at city administration Monday, this one from Ward 14’s Peter Demong.

Demong asked why Good Samaritan contractors, who, on a day off, are being told they can’t help plow the streets in their neighbourhoods – even though they have available equipment.

“I would like to ask our administration to explain the city’s reasoning for prohibiting citizens from using personal snow clearing equipment to help make road passable for after large dumps of snow,” Demong asked.

City of Calgary Transportation GM Doug Morgan said there are four primary reasons: Safety, legislation, the environment and property damage risk mitigation.

Roads director Troy McLeod explained further. He said snow piles could create visibility issues or obstruct access points and cover catch basins that prevent flooding.  McLeod said small equipment can interfere with other vehicles and active modes of transportation.

He cited rules around operation of a business on a street and that they’d need to apply for a permit. Also, the snow collection and removal to a city facility.

“Lastly, any damage to public or private property that may occur during these operations,” McLeod said.

“There needs to be a risk mitigation through the city granting permission, with proper indemnification and insurance.”

There is a snow emergency notice of motion being heard later during this city council meeting. McLeod suggested they could be directed there to look at this further.