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Calgary prepped to tackle this winter’s snowy roads, pathways

Though it’s tough to believe winter’s coming when it’s Oct. 19 and 21 degrees Celsius… the snow’s on its way.

The City of Calgary said Thursday that it’s prepared, with a bolstered fleet and cash in hand to keep the city roads, cycle tracks and pathways cleared. There’s snow in the forecast to start next week, with potentially 10 centimetres of accumulation over four days as temperatures dip below freezing for daytime highs.

Chris Hewitt Mobility Maintenance Manager for the City of Calgary said that they had a $54 million budget for 2023 (January to December) and there’s still $31 million left for this year. They have 101 sanders ready for duty and 27 graders, plus contracted equipment to go with an army of leaders and snow blowers, he said.

With maintenance all under one umbrella this year, Hewitt said he expects the City to be better at clearing some of those nagging connections between roads, pathways and transit stations.  In past years, those connections have gone uncleared due to the jurisdictional difference between roads, pathways and transit.

“We’re expecting a much smoother transition from one travel mode to the next and that’s a real priority this year,” he said.

“We’ll be looking at continually increasing how accessible the network is for everyone.”

The City will still operate on a priority route-based system, with higher volume routes taking precedence within the first 18 hours – Deerfoot, Glenmore, Crowchild, Memorial – cascading down to high volume collector roads, then into main parts of residential areas (Priority 3) after the first 36 hours.

Windrows will be a focus

While the City of Calgary works at keeping main roads cleared, in years past it’s sometimes come at the expense of pushing windrows into the path of transit stops.

“Accessibility is going to be a large, major priority for us this year,” Hewitt said.

“We will be looking at doing more focused work as we’re doing our day one, day two operations and certainly that third day, making sure that we’re keeping things like bus stops, crosswalks, traffic islands clear of windrows so that we’re not impacting mobility of folks who are either in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, whatever the case may be.”

Snow is a given in Calgary, and so are complaints about snow clearing. Hewitt said that they try to manage citizen expectations and relay information about how they handle service in the city.

He said informing the public about simple things like the difference in service – priority one roads go down to pavement while residential roads do not – are important.

It’s been five years since the City of Calgary called a snow route parking ban, Hewitt said.  That’s mainly because conditions haven’t warranted it. They take a look at weather patterns and if there will be consecutive days of snow that could hamper Calgarians’ travel.

“We haven’t really found ourselves in a time over the last few years where we’ve had enough consecutive snow, without any melt, that we were worried about snow capacity,” he said.

As always, if there is a snow route parking ban, cars will have to be off the roads for 72 hours.