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.