St. John’s Coun. Jonathan Galgay defended the city’s snowclearing Monday, after the city was “inundated” with complaints from downtown businesses after heavy snowfall last week.
St. John’s snowclearing crews are being taken to task for not having the city’s downtown core cleaned up from the huge piles of snow which have accumulated there. — Photos by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The Ward 2 councillor said he heard more complaints about snow removal than any other issue since he was elected to council in the fall. But he noted that the city’s winter parking bylaw — which imposes parking restrictions to allow for snow removal — doesn’t come into effect until early January, and the amount of traffic downtown, increasing in the days before Christmas, made it a challenge to get the snow off the streets. The city finally was able to clear the snow overnight Sunday, after being unable to late last week due to parked cars and pedestrian traffic.
“When you do snow removal, you actually have to adjust your scheduling, your resources and your staffing levels,” he said.
“We were able to do that last night because we didn’t have a major snowstorm in place,” Galgay said. “But if we did have a major snowstorm place or we had inclement weather of any sort, we would have to take resources off of other residential streets in order to do the snow removal. That’s what we’ve been trying to say to the business community: If you want this, there are going to be areas of the city who are going to do without to get this done for you.”
Snow removal requires special equipment to be brought in and can’t be done “with the snap of a finger,” said Galgay, who noted that downtown isn’t the only area of town with businesses that need snow clearing.
“Even though it’s the downtown and they’ve been there for hundreds of years, we also have businesses on Stavanger Drive, off Kenmount Road, Freshwater Road, that rely heavily on foot traffic, and some of those sidewalks have not been cleared,” he said. “Now what we’re getting is we’re getting calls from those businesses, saying, ‘Well, you did it for the downtown. When are you going to do it for us?’ And that’s the challenge that we’re going to be faced with. So we really need to clearly identify and have a long-term plan in terms of our snowclearing.”
The city has to be careful when making quick decisions about snow removal, and can’t base its policy on where the most complaints come from. “How do you explain that to a family that lives in Kenmount Terrace or Airport Heights, especially in school zones where they don’t have their sidewalks cleared?”