Councillor defends downtown snowclearing

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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?”

Organizations: Airport Heights

Geographic location: Kenmount Road, Freshwater Road, Kenmount Terrace

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Recent comments

  • Michael Hannaford
    December 28, 2013 - 17:46

    Why is the Ward 2 Councillor, elected to serve downtown, carrying on about Stavanger Dr. and Kenmount Terrace? And why can he even represent downtown when he lives in airport heights?

  • Steve
    December 25, 2013 - 11:51

    The City of Edmonton has a bylaw requiring ALL homeowners and businesses to clear their own sidewalks or face a fine. They must be cleared at most 24 hours after snowfall. Get a shovel and get outside!

    • Steve Too
      December 28, 2013 - 10:11

      Couldn't agree more Steve(nice name btw). This city needs stiff fines for residents who refuse to clear their own portion of sidewalks and especially stiff fines for those who put the snow from their driveways onto the sidewalk. Also landlords should be fined for not clearing the areas around their buildings in multiple rental dwellings. Cars that prevent snow clearing or block sidewalks should be towed immediately. Towing companies should be given the green light to pro actively tow vehicles that endanger public safety. It works like this in other cities. They take a photo of the issue they are towing them for, tow the vehicle. Done. This city needs to smarten the heck up already. Its going to take someones death before these maroons wake the heck up.

    • Andrew
      December 28, 2013 - 11:45

      While that would be great, completely impossible. Too many residents without a place to actually put snow, other than straight back into the street. I could do it (possibly, very inconvenient given my front yard and the difficulties, but I have tried in the past), and would like to see it --totally in agreement there. And bully for Edmonton, but just not viable in St. John's.

    • AEO
      December 30, 2013 - 09:41

      Steves, the problem in the downtown area is that there is nowhere left to put the snow. We need snow removal desperately. There is nowhere to walk, nowhere to park, and nowhere else for the snow to go until the city steps in. This in downtown areas where the winterparking ban doesn't apply, so there's no need to wait until the 8th. It turns into a more solid piece of ice daily, we've never seen it so bad. There's an iceberg 8 feet wide from the end of the sidewalk (which I've cleared) to the road and 4 feet high where I used to park. Where are we supposed to put snow/ice like that so that we can park?? We don't have lawns, we don't have wide streets, and we are feeling burried.

  • Chris
    December 25, 2013 - 07:13

    This is Newfoundland we're talking about right...snow is expected...often and doesn't melt overnight. You concentrate your city budget based on the climate you're in. You don't expect a snow clearing plan in Florida do you. You expect a hurricane plan. Logically, NL should have a snow clearing plan. Period.

  • Linda C
    December 24, 2013 - 22:00

    Oh, yeah, lots of foot traffic in Stavanger area. I live downtown and parking is absolutely ridiculous in the winter. You spend 1/2 hour digging out and when you get home there's just a big mess on the street and nowhere to park.

  • KCB
    December 24, 2013 - 15:30

    The sidewalks on Torbay Road were not touched between Newfoundland Drive and Stavanger Drive all last week. Busiest time of the year and nowhere to walk besides in the street. The complete disregard for pedestrians here in St. John's is astounding.

    • Steve
      December 28, 2013 - 10:13

      The city wants to kill its citizens to cut costs. Its obvious. Why else wouldn't they clean the area around the CNIB on the boulevard? Its obvious the city wants the blind to wander into traffic and be run down. This city council should be held personally responsible for any deaths or injuries because of their poor judgement. Criminally responsible.

  • Jennifer
    December 24, 2013 - 14:43

    It is nearly impossible to get around St. John's in the winter, particularly those without a vehicle. What's more, I find it absolutely dangerous and ridiculous that pedestrians have to walk in the streets with traffic. Now, imagine those with children or disabilities. What a nightmare! Surely this is poor management. There are many other cities with similar climatic conditions who deal with the snow better than this.

  • Snowed Off
    December 24, 2013 - 14:28

    Visiting friends on Hamilton Ave last week. Sidewalk operator comes by doing the sidewalk. 30 secs later the street plow operator passed him going down while he was going up alongside each other and plowed chunks of ice all over his just cleaned sidewalk. Stayed like that for 3 days after. How about radios that are in sync with each other per operation area?

    December 24, 2013 - 13:51

    Try walking on the sidewalk on back of St. Clare's Hospital near the major entrance!! Nope, not cleared!! 6 Days after the snowfall, and still not cleared. Not good enough!! Around 30 parking meters up and down the sidewalk near the entrance but you have to climb a bank to put money in the meters. Seriously , this is totally unacceptable. The schools are closed for Christmas holidays so why is this sidewalk not a priority?? It's a hospital for goodness sake, there are visitors coming and going all day and night!! New council - same lame excuses!!

  • Jess Elliott
    December 24, 2013 - 13:14

    I have been in every Capital city in this country.St John's is not a major city. It's downtown core is atrocious . The city may be booming in areas but we are light years behind the rest of Canada when it comes to snow clearing. It is unsafe to walk downtown and downright life threatening at times. I know our streets are old and unplanned but their is no excuse. To the new blood at council you talked about change. Bring it on if not leave now

  • Ward Two
    December 24, 2013 - 11:41

    Really shows that Galgay lives in Airport Heights and truly understands the people he represents in downtown. NOT

  • JM
    December 24, 2013 - 11:05

    I don't usually post anything but in the spirit of Christmas I feel obligated to. The City does the best it can with the resources available. People just love to complain...and if it's not the snow clearing it is will be something else. As someone who lived in Alberta for 12 years, they do a more efficient job here and I am proud to be a "townie". Don't forget that in most municipalities across Canada the home and /or business owners are responsible for clearing their own sidewalks within 24 hours or face a fine. I am not saying that things couldn't be improved but there are people in this wonderful city who are hungry, homeless, sick and lonely. If only the energy of these comments were directed to a worthy would make the city a better place. Merry Christmas & Count your Blessings. P.S. On my street there are several city employees, and we are one of the last to get plowed in our area....

  • Jay
    December 24, 2013 - 10:18

    The city just does not have an effective implementation plan for clearing snow. The operators seem to be on permanent work to rule, and the managers and councillors are afraid to address the issue. Perhaps we should contract out all snow clearing.

  • Mary
    December 24, 2013 - 10:00

    I am so sick of having to walk in the street EVERY WINTER, the only comment I have is ,our sidewalks are DISGRACEFUL.

    • sarah
      December 24, 2013 - 16:18

      In Ontario if there's a sidewalk in front of your house or business we SHOVEL IT !!!! Everyone should be responsible and shovel them EVERYWHERE.

  • Mary
    December 24, 2013 - 09:56

    Our sidewalks are disgraceful,as in all the years past,as a matter of fact,they've all but disappeared in some places,for those of us who walk,we're done until the snow melts.If mayor O' keefe rOur side walks are a disgrace, they've all but disappeared in some places.Every winter it's the same thing,walkers have to wait for mother nature to melt the snow, I don't know where the mayor gets his info,that this city is walkable city year round.Hmm, wonder where HE walks.

  • Nancy
    December 24, 2013 - 09:28

    Over a week since the first major snowfall, and only Water Street and Duckworth Street have been subject to overnight clearing, which takes care of some of the downtown core, but what about all the other streets? For example, Merrymeeting Road--a major street in that area of town, with two grocery stores on it--has barely enough room for cars to pass by each other. Sidewalks have not been cleared. This is an area where lots of people walk--and wait for Metrobus. Watching pedestrians with grocery bags negotiate traffic yesterday was just so frustrating--can only imagine how frustrating it was for them. And that was in daylight. The added hazard of low light in the evenings make it more dangerous. During the election campaign, Dennis O'Keefe commented that this is a highly walkable city year-round--I would love to see actual proof of this!

    • Jerome
      December 24, 2013 - 09:46

      Am familiar with this area. And like many areas in city center the number one reason for poor snow clearing - roads is the numbers of folks that have no choice but to park their cars on the street.

  • W Bagg
    December 24, 2013 - 08:13

    lots of pedestrians on Stavanger? How'd they get there with no car? Certainly not public transit in this city! It seems City HAll is a culture of defeat. The statsu quo is acceptable, its hard to do snow removal, we've never been good at it so we are content to keep being bad at it isd what Galgay just told us and I am sure he heard that from Mackey. They should be striving to improve, it seems they are not.

  • Jack
    December 24, 2013 - 07:33

    The biggest issue with snow clearing is the sidewalks. It is so dangerous to have people walking on the street (Torbay Road, Columbus, etc..) at night in poor weather. People drive this roads far to fast. It is only a matter of time before someone gets killed or seriously hurt.

    • Steve
      December 28, 2013 - 10:17

      After having nearly been run down unpurpose by drivers in this city because I have to walk on the road inorder to get anywhere I've started carrying a large rock in my pocket. Any car that aims towards me gets to see me with this rock. Next one who tried to run me off the road is getting it thru the windshield and in the face. They want to try to murder me I'm sure as heck going to do my best to stop them. Hell these bozos even tried to run me off the road when I had my 3yr old with me. A delivery truck for a local company I won't name did this. People are going to get hurt because of this cities incompetence and I hate to say it but its also going to lead to violence soon if these are the conditions the city expects us to live under.

  • Steve
    December 24, 2013 - 07:27

    I'll bet the councilors had their streets, sidewalks and dog routes plowed.

    • Johnn
      December 24, 2013 - 08:31

      Nonsense Steve. Educate yourself and stop misdirecting your complaints. Council, Galgay in this case has little or nothing to do with the snow clearing policy other than approving within the allotted budget. It is the high paid management in public works that plan and implement. If you want to 'throw snowballs' direct them at the city depot. Want better snow clearing? Move or be prepared for a massive tax hike.

    • darrell
      December 24, 2013 - 12:03

      Steve, you are correct. FYI, Mt. Pearl has a nice plowed route, even better for walking....its called the "Dave Denine walking route", I'm sure St. John's has similar ones.

    • Another Steve
      December 29, 2013 - 13:33

      I'm not the Steve in the OP but I can tell you Johnn that you are full of baloney. They manage to groom Quidi Lake daily with their snowmobile and grate so joggers can jog so obviously theres a budget for that. Why do joggers take priority over the blind? Go look in front the CNIB and check the sidewalks there or anywhere else around Quidi Vidi. Its a death trap. This council is a bunch of no backbone cowards. If its the Public works thats at fault why isn't council dragging them into a room for a good grilling? Its time for the citizens of St. John's to demand an inquiry/audit of all things related to snow clearing in this city. Peoples lives are on the line and this poor excuse for a city council ain't doing squat.

  • Joe
    December 24, 2013 - 07:24

    Council has relied too much on salt and not enough on plowing for the last week or two. Personally I'm waiting for all the oil to run out( it won't last for ever) and then you all will have to shovel your driveway and down the street.

  • True Newfoundlander
    December 24, 2013 - 07:20

    I don't have snow clearing where I live. No one else should either! Why should my taxes pay for someone else?

    • Randy
      December 24, 2013 - 23:14

      Yeah, there ya go; typical Nl'er, "If I can't have it, nobody should!" jeez what an ignorant attitude.

  • John Smith
    December 24, 2013 - 07:15

    i don't live downtown, but my neighbors and I have seen a definite reduction in snow clearing on our street so far this winter, the city must be trying to save money so the councillors can get a raise, and go on some trips...

  • Driver
    December 24, 2013 - 06:00

    We just came down Barter's Hill and had to go through the red light - no way to stop - and no we were not speeding - if we were doing 10 km that was tops. Luckily, there was no traffic. The snow plow didn't have any problems though getting to Tim's on Ropewalk Lane!!!

  • Ger
    December 24, 2013 - 05:11

    I'm sick and tired of hearing about snow clearing complaints from the downtown\ area. In case you don't realize it, there are other areas in the city as well. I live in the west end and after I do my driveway, I then do the sidewalk and when the plow comes back, I do it again. That's the way it is. So stop your whinning and get over it.

    • Linda C
      December 24, 2013 - 22:03

      At least you have a driveway. Most of us downtown do not.

  • Happy mount pearl resident
    December 24, 2013 - 04:56

    Airport heights and kenmount terrace shouldn't even be on the radar for sidewalk clearing. Main roads should be!