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Crossfield council reviews snow clearing policy

Crossfield Council members reviewed the Town’s snow clearing and removal policy for roads and sidewalks at the first meeting of the year held on Jan. 4, and were presented with information regarding snow removal on Railway Street.

Crossfield Town council members reviewed the Town’s snow clearing and removal policy for roads and sidewalks at their first meeting of the year, held on Jan. 4, listening to a presentation that focused specifically on snow removal in Crossfield's downtown. 

According to Merel Jarvis, director of operations for the Town of Crossfield, for the remainder of the 2022 snow-clearing season, the Town’s priority and commitment will be utilizing staff and equipment to aid in road and sidewalk snow removal.  

Steps taken toward this aim include purchasing a new blade for a Bobcat which will help remove snow in tight spots such as handicap parking stalls and angled areas, as well as the purchase of a new Toolcat utility work machine and snow blower to aid downtown snow removal.  

“[Our] primary focus is accessibility and mobility for crossing crosswalks and streets,” Jarvis said, adding staff had a round-table discussion to determine best practices.  

She said since the policy was last updated in February 2019, the Town has faced challenges within the operations department, including problems with snow clearing and removal on Railway Street.  

“We had additional discussions regarding accessibility from street to sidewalks on Railway Street, “she said. “We understand the challenges association with the revitalization design and are working to provide options for the council’s consideration at an upcoming meeting.” 

Chief Administrative Officer Sue Keenan said snow removal is a top priority for the Town, ensuring roads and pathways are clear for the safety of residents.  

“It puts us in a really huge liability position if we’re not being mindful and getting out there in a timely fashion,” she said. “So, we’re going to need the eyes and ears of the community to tell us if we’re doing well out there.”  

Keenan suggested meeting with local business owners through the Crossfield Chamber of Commerce to get their input on how best to maintain the sidewalk areas, which if not cleared could pose a liability risk to the Town.  

“I think the business community has a role to play, especially those on Railway Street,” she said, noting business owners' duty to clear snow on the sidewalks surrounding their business. 

“It’s all over the map – there's no consistent application in terms of what we want to see towards the maintenance of the sidewalks on Railway Street.  

“And that’s concerning especially with respect to liability issues.” 

She also noted a lack of consideration towards maintenance during the design process of Railway Street, with a lack of thought paid toward the difficulties of clearing snow around the street's benches, tables, and bike racks.  

“There could be significantly more costs to changing things up a bit to ensure that maintenance component is addressed – it has been challenging there’s no question about it,” Keenan said. 

She said until further discussion, the Town will be working to help businesses owners clear snow in the “bulb” areas, but there is an expectation they will get out and do their sidewalks.  

“In the short term, we are going to continue to work with business owners and remind them of their obligations until we can come up with a more practical and workable solution,” Keenan said. 

During council's discussion on the matter, Coun. Justin Gustafson said the penalty for not clearing snow on both residential and commercial properties is “far too low to make it effective.” He suggested a higher penalty fee to ensure people are responsible for clearing snow on their own properties.  

In response, Keenan noted the Town has a policy to provide warning before imposing fees, focusing on education rather than punishment as an effective means of engaging with both residents and business owners.  

“Our focus is on education first and enforcement second,” she said. “Where we’re having some issues is with the business community. 

“Overall, I would suggest from what I’m hearing from our staff and CPO officer that residents have been pretty diligent in making sure their sidewalks are clean.” 

Finally, Keenan noted that there have been shortcomings within the organization with regard to snow removal in the past.  

“It’s a new year – we've had some really good conversations with our crews – we will ensure road clearing and sidewalks come the top priority for our external crews in the winter.” 

Carmen Cundy,  

Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy 

Carmen Cundy

About the Author: Carmen Cundy

Carmen Cundy joined the Airdrie Today team in March 2021.
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