Complaints begin after first heavy snowfall

Josh Pennell and Barb Sweet
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City of St. John’s shouldn’t be allowed to push snow on people’s property, man says

The first considerable amount of snow for the season in the city of St. John’s brought with it complaints about how the city dealt with the storm.
Jim Lacey said the city has to come up with a better system of widening streets so people like his elderly parents aren’t penalized.

Lacey’s parents live near St. Clare’s Hospital. Between Monday night and early Tuesday morning they were whacked with snow boulders from the city plow that went over the sidewalk and into their driveway.

“Literally there were banks of ice. One block was 3 1/2 feet wide and the same height and density,” he said.

He said when the family contacted Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay, it was suggested the couple, on a fixed income, would have to hire someone to remove the snow.

But Lacey said if there is a bylaw preventing people from putting snow in the street, the city shouldn’t be allowed to push excessive amounts onto people’s property, especially seniors in ill health.

Jennifer Mills is the communications and public relations officer for the city.

“There are more than 30,000 driveways in St. John’s. The cost of removing snow from each one would be enormous and would substantially increase the cost of snowclearing,” she said.

Mills also said the city makes every effort to remove as much snow from the streets as possible.

“When plowing, we have to clear the streets as wide as possible to make room for the next snowfall and to clear catch basins located at the curb line to take water in the event of rain or a thaw. During the snowclearing process it will vary how much snow is left in front of each home based on snowfall patterns and street configuration.”

Lacey said his parents have no issue with the need to clear snow after the streets are plowed, or even widened, within reason.

According to the couple, their issue was to be resolved by the city on Wednesday.

But Lacey said there’s an ongoing snowclearing dilemma that needs attention, especially for those who can’t cope because of health reasons and age.

“I think it’s a total social injustice for the seniors of our city,” Lacey said.

For Galgay, also chairman of the public works committee, snow clearing is “not a happy news story” and he won’t intervene in the operations of it.

He said he didn’t advise the Laceys to hire anyone, but shared his own conundrum of returning home to a snow-blocked driveway and having to pay to get it hauled away.

Paul Mackey, the city’s director of public works, said before the city does snow removal, it has to look at accumulation as well as the forecast.

“There’s a fair bit of mobilization,” Mackey said of getting the city’s equipment and employees organized to remove snow.

The city has to consider if there is more snow forecasted, Mackey added. If another accumulation of snow hits while the crews are removing what is already there, they won’t get a full shift of snow removal in. Such was the case for Wednesday night when there was more snow forecasted.

Galgay said people who have a complaint about snow clearing operations can call 311 to be given a file number.

Those cases are reviewed by the senior management for a decision.

“I don’t have the authority to direct or redirect,”Galgay said, adding hundreds of people are in the same situation as Lacey’s parents and the city can’t pick and choose properties for which to make special arrangements.

He said while he appreciates the tough situation some people are in, he won’t ask the city for a new policy on snowclearing as snow crews are doing the best they can.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Clare

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    December 19, 2013 - 10:24

    This AM on way to work Canada Drive fully cleared except where cars had been left on road, no tickets on vehicles!!!!

    • Know the laws
      December 19, 2013 - 11:34

      Why are you yelling baout tickets people can park on the road until jan 6th. You will probably be the same person complaining you got a ticket on the 6th for parking on the road.

    • fogNL
      December 19, 2013 - 22:58

      Yes, the parking ban is not currently in effect, however, one would hope people would have common sense year round. If there's a storm coming, get your bloody vehicles off the road, I don't understand why people insist on leaving them out there, it not only plows your car in, but also causes problems for your neighbours who now have to deal with an extended snow clearing because a plow had to go around your precious car. Seriously, smarten up you bunch of self-entitled idiots.

  • Brian
    December 19, 2013 - 10:10

    last winter a city dump truck/plow pushed heavy wet snow in over a 5 foot sidewalk and 11-12 feet in over lawn, in doiung so damaged a vehicle parked in driveway, roof of vehicle was covered in heavy wet snow, pictures taken , statement from neighbour claim to city, they accepted no responsibility!!!requested GPS data for vehicle to find out speed truck was doing to clear street, guess what GPS was not functioning for that particular truck!! They should send some of their workers to Mount Pearl to learn a few things abount snowclearing!!!

  • Brian
    December 19, 2013 - 10:09

    last winter a city dump truck/plow pushed heavy wet snow in over a 5 foot sidewalk and 11-12 feet in over lawn, in doiung so damaged a vehicle parked in driveway, roof of vehicle was covered in heavy wet snow, pictures taken , statement from neighbour claim to city, they accepted no responsibility!!!requested GPS data for vehicle to find out speed truck was doing to clear street, guess what GPS was not functioning for that particular truck!! They should send some of their workers to Mount Pearl to learn a few things abount snowclearing!!!

    • Robert
      December 19, 2013 - 10:16

      Hey! Don't send those guys in here. I think there's one here now, as he's the only one who plows a cul-de-sac the wrong way, pushing snow into driveways instead of into the middle

  • Wow
    December 19, 2013 - 10:07

    What has happened to this place people now what the city to clear there driveways. Go buy a snow blower like every other person. When you get a big boulder just break it up jeeez people are lazy. Why don't the nice daughter of the parents shovel it for them, Nah instead ill complain to the city.

  • Watcher
    December 19, 2013 - 09:34

    I live in the downtown area and I'd more than happy to help out a few seniors by clearing away the snow from their properties. Does anyone know of a group or organization you could contact about helping out?

  • Winter
    December 19, 2013 - 09:31

    It's winter, they have to put the snow somewhere. They can't skip driveways. They will never get the streets done. If it is a chunk of ice, break it up. If it's a senior citizen's home or a handicapped person, they have neighbours. I do several driveways. Come on people, help each other.

  • Thomas
    December 19, 2013 - 08:19

    Nonsense. The city allows parking on one side of the Street on St. Clare avenue on the overnights. This results in a push back of snow on the other side. Those with homes on the even sided numbers not only impede snow clearing activities but also go relatively unscathed regarding plow ins. Meanwhile residents on the odd numbered homes not only struggle with normal shoveling activities but as well an additional amount of snow that would normally be distributed on both sides. As well the new widening program has all but made it impossible for residents to keep a foot path linkage for side walk access until such a time that the sidewalk plow makes it way up. There is a seniors complex as well as a primary school on that street. I hacked up and removed a dryer sized piece of snow from a lady's walkway that was blocking her ability to egress through her front door as it was wedged against her storm door - this was from the plow. I take offence at Galgay's arrogance on this issue by pushing it on to 311. Bylaws, including snow removal are the responsibility of council. Galgay - remember why you are there and remember who put you there.