Staff continues to dig city out of snow piles

Bonnie Belec
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Director of public works says downtown clearing and sidewalks are high on the agenda

Paul Mackey

The streets of St. John’s are widened and the city’s sidewalk-clearing program is in full force, but Paul Mackey is the first to admit there’s tonnes of snow left to push around.

The city’s director of public works told reporters Monday following council’s regular meeting the cleanup from Friday’s storm is proceeding well and work is continuing throughout the day and night.

“We worked through the weekend and all of the streets are pretty well widened back. We’ve got some widening to do on multi-lane streets and are in the progress of using our large snowblowers for a lot of the work because the areas that are left are huge banks of high snow drifted up and plowed up so we need big blowers to do that,” said Mackey.

He said within a day or two staff hope to get to the downtown streets to start trucking the snow away. Mackey said they’ll begin with Water and Duckworth streets. “Perhaps tomorrow night or the next night that’s where we’ll start, weather dependent of course, because it’s getting a bit congested down there with the snow banks. The downtown is the focus for removal, and that’s generally the case because it’s the most congested area with a lot of pedestrians and businesses,” he said.

Mackey said staff started clearing the sidewalks Saturday.

“We have our designated routes we do, but it’s been slow progress on the sidewalks because of the high accumulation and the small machines we use for that purpose are not very effective. So we’re doing what we can with the small machines but have to bring in the bigger machines as we free up the bigger blowers to make more progress on the sidewalks. We are getting there it’s just taking a little longer,” he said.

Mackey said it generally takes about 10 days to clean up from a big storm such as the one that dumped more than 50 centimetres on

St. John’s and surrounding areas last week and knocked out power for residents all across the province.  

One of the concerns raised at council by Coun. Gerry Colbert, chairman of the police and traffic committee, is the fact a lot of downtown meters are buried in.

He said if drivers need to use a meter but they’re inaccessible, parking enforcement won’t issue a ticket.

“When our meter person walks by if he can’t get to it he will not ticket the car, but if the meter is accessible and you just don’t feel like paying and you’re going to use the snow as an excuse and he walks by and the meter is expired you will get a ticket. They’re being very lenient, but if they can feed the meter and you don’t feed the meter they will feed your windshield,” Colbert said.

Mackey said as part of digging out the downtown streets staff will focus on freeing up the meters.

During the meeting council expressed its pleasure and thanked city staff for the work they did and have been doing since the start of the storm late Thursday night.

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Recent comments

  • West ender
    January 15, 2013 - 08:57

    I agree Anon I even though the sidewalks are done in some places but they are really useless if they don,t salt them.First day of school yesterday and the side walks on Waterford Bridge Rd were not done,kids walking on the road every where and two schools in that area,today the side walks are done the kids are still walking on the road because of no salt on them.Topsail Rd how ever on Sunday were cleaned so well both sides and side walks included.I know we had a lot of snow but Sat and Sunday the sidewalks should have been done in school zones if nothing else.And yes downtown should be given Priority.

  • Anon
    January 15, 2013 - 06:36

    Crazy that sidewalks were being done in areas were there are wide streets before narrow streets. I saw a wide street's sidewalks being cleared on both sides of the street while streets like LeMarchant Rd have not been done. Lemarchant Rd is narrow & has a lot of pedestrians & traffic as well as 2 fire stations, a hospital & the police in the area. Pedestrians take their life into their hands walking on the street there. (case in point, someone was hit on LeMarchant last night.). Sidewalks on the narrow downtown streets should be a priority!!!