Snow is all the rage, for some in St. John's

Bonnie Belec
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People fed up with the mess already

For the past 37 years, Terry Bennett has heard every form of swear word angry residents and motorists could muster up to hurl at him.

This year is no different for the president of CUPE Local 569, with the City of St. John’s outside workers.

 “We’ve heard it all,” he told The Telegram Thursday during a break from snowclearing operations.

“I suppose you get used to it,” said Bennett, citing an incident on Bannerman Road Wednesday night and into Thursday morning as an example.

He said workers were trying to widen the streets and one driver, instead of going around the operations, followed the crew.

“He was very belligerent with us, using the F word and the C word, and I said, ‘Sir, if you got comments to make, then call the city at 311.’ He said, ‘That’s no effing good. I already called that place. All ye can go F yourselves,’” Bennett recalled.

Fortunately, he said, that motorist is the exception rather than the rule. Most people are courteous and try to avoid areas where crews are working, Bennett said, though there’s always a percentage of people who don’t care.   

He said he understands these are trying times — his workers are going flat-out 24 hours a day, with 12-hour shifts, and some employees are working 16-hour to 18-hour shifts.

“But it’s our jobs, so we turn a blind eye. We got to clear the roads and blow the snow back and dump the snow. We’re just asking for a bit of respect and for people to stay away from where we are working, for their safety and ours,” he said.

Deputy city manager of public works Paul Mackey says it’s early in the year and people are already out of patience.

He said it’s going to be a long winter and  drivers and residents should calm down and let workers do their jobs.

“There’s no doubt people get a bit upset at times, and we’re finding lately, people are very impatient, particularly drivers,” he said.

“We put up signs and barricades to keep the traffic away for good reason — lots of heavy equipment going ahead and backing up, and it’s not safe for people or vehicles to be in there.”

At times, Mackey said, crews physically have to block roads with trucks because people ignore the signs and warning lights.

He said a recent example involv­ed a driver who went around work crews and ended up in a precarious position.

“We had an incident overnight where an SUV went through and ended up in a snowbank we had in the middle of the street. We were removing the snow, he ended up stuck in it and was looking for us to tow him out, which we declined. So that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with. It’s an ongoing battle,” Mackey said.

Regarding snowclearing and removal, he said given the amount that has fallen in such a short time, the city is having to rent trucks to supplement its own fleet and find dumping areas to make the operation more efficient.

Mackey said renting dump trucks from the construction industry is not a common practice, but the city has done it in the past.

“We normally do it when we get severe snow accumulation, not every year. I don’t think we did last year or the year before, but some years we have had them for several weeks. It all depends on the snow and how much work we have to do,” he said, adding there are several trucks available that the city hopes to have in operation in the next day or so.

With respect to dumping, Mackey said while St. John’s harbour is the primary dump site, different locations are being looked at to clear some of the snow off the roads.

“We do use Robin Hood Bay, but distance is longer, so that’s not a preferred location,” he said.

“We’re looking at Wishingwell Park parking lot as a dumpsite for that area of town. With the amount of snow around we have to look for all the sites we can find because space is at a premium and haul distance affects the efficiency of the operation. The further you got to haul, the less work you get done and the more expensive it is,” Mackey said.

He said it’s a bit of a challenge to get everything done at once and crews are continuing to clear out fire hydrants — which the city also rents equipment for because it doesn’t have enough of its own.

Sidewalk clearing is taking a backseat for the time being, according to the city’s website,  www.stjohns.ca: “due to ongoing street and snowclearing and removal operations, sidewalk clearing in designated areas, including school zones, is delayed. With a record amount of snow, 24/7 snow removal operations must continue to focus on ensuring access throughout the city for emergency vehicles. Street widening and downtown snow removal from congested streets remains a priority at this time.”

In the meantime, Bennett reminds the public that the no-parking ban is in effect and people can help city crews by getting their cars off the roads.

“I just encourage people to check the snow line (576-7669), and get your car in a safe area so we’ll be able to remove snow from the street,” he said.

“A lot of people are co-operative and we do get compliments. We’ve noticed people shovelling out fire hydrants, but the big thing to get out there is safety. If you see snow blowing or snow removal in effect, go the other way because it will make our job better, easier and safer,” said Bennett.

There are 12 streets listed on the snow line for clearing overnight. The city’s website advises motorists that snow removal and/or street widening operations are in effect beginning 12:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.  

 

bbelec@thetelegram.com

 

 

Downtown snow removal daily street list:

1. Circular Road, from Monkstown Road to Bonaventure Avenue

2. Fleming Street, from Bonaventure Avenue to Monkstown Road

3. Hayward Avenue

4. Catherine Street

5. Barnes Road

6. Barnes Place

7. Coleman Place

8. Donnelly’s Lane

9. Patrick Street

10. Springdale Street

11. Albro Lane

12. Convent Square

 

 

Geographic location: Bannerman Road, Robin Hood Bay, Wishingwell Park Monkstown Road Bonaventure Avenue

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Hil
    January 12, 2014 - 21:02

    People should stop complaining, crews work hard and as for sidewalks...in some places the person who owns the house adjacent to the sidewalk is responsible for keeping the sidewalk clear! So for those of you who complain I ask this... is the sidewalk in front of your place done by you and do you want to be forced to do it?

  • Marshall Art
    January 12, 2014 - 11:24

    Every time we get a major dump, it's like a step back in time. People climbing up 3 foot snowbanks to put money in a meter, people walking in narrow streets, getting splattered with salty slush because there are no sidewalks. This is 2014, Mr. Mackey, not 1904, and people are simply fed up.

  • Editor
    January 10, 2014 - 15:14

    Pretty sure that snow removal daily list at the end was last night's.

  • Kris Kristie
    January 10, 2014 - 11:55

    This article was readable till I saw this quote and then I hurled up my coffee all over the keyboard! "Sidewalk clearing is taking a backseat for the time being..." You can't be serious is what John McEnroe used to scream at tennis umpires over a rediculous call - now I'm screaming at Mr. Mackey " You can't be (@$&%#(*&()& serious!!! A backseat?!! "

  • Mic
    January 10, 2014 - 11:22

    Why are people complaining?? At least they are trying to clear away the snow...people need to take a step back and let them do their jobs!!

  • Mic
    January 10, 2014 - 11:20

    Why are people complaining?? At least they are trying to clear away the snow...people need to take a step back and let them do their jobs!!

  • Amanda
    January 10, 2014 - 11:07

    Sometimes, you really can't stay away from workers as they clear the streets. I was trying to drive a friend to the airport early this morning, and there were snow-clearing operations taking place on either end of my street. I was sandwiched in, I couldn't get out, and he came very close to missing his flight. Can't these operations be arranged to that not every exit on someone's street is blocked bu snow-clearing operations? Yes, I disturbed the workers...because I HAD to get out!!!

  • Amanda
    January 10, 2014 - 11:06

    Sometimes, you really can't stay away from workers as they clear the streets. I was trying to drive a friend to the airport early this morning, and there were snow-clearing operations taking place on either end of my street. I was sandwiched in, I couldn't get out, and he came very close to missing his flight. Can't these operations be arranged to that not every exit on someone's street is blocked bu snow-clearing operations? Yes, I disturbed the workers...because I HAD to get out!!!

  • Hunter
    January 10, 2014 - 10:53

    May be an idea to have some manager of these Snow Removal Crews set-up a communication link with radio stations. That way those of us who are trying to commute have some idea of what areas to avoid. As an example: I left my workplace 4:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon and encountered a pretty big traffic snarl on Water Street West. Once I was in the line of traffic , I was committed to that route. It took 30 minutes just to get around the traffic jam. (My normal 15 minute drive from work to home, became a very frustrating 45 minute ordeal.) Had I been able to hear a Snow Removal Report on VOCM, I could have chosen an alternate route. So, to a degree, the city is the author of it's own grief when it comes to drivers being frustrated. .

    • Jim
      January 10, 2014 - 11:47

      I moved to the west coast a long time ago. On a good day, my 17km morning commute takes me 50 minutes on a good day. Add snow..lol..and I can anticipate anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to get back home.....so how does that 'frustrating ordeal' sound now??

  • Me
    January 10, 2014 - 10:49

    Get the licence number and call the RNC.

  • Steve
    January 10, 2014 - 09:53

    The City of St. John's need to pass a bylaw IMMEDIATELY for ALL homeowners and business to clear their of F sidewalks. I am tired of this ''can't someone else do it''; ''not my responsibility'' attitude. You own a shovel, get off your A and help out.

    • Chantal
      January 10, 2014 - 10:12

      I assume you don't live on Prospect Street.

    • James
      January 10, 2014 - 10:25

      No problem Steve. Where do you live so I can have a look at the job you are doing with yours. I do keep mine clear as best I can and the hydrant as well. My problem, and that with many others is that effective side walk clearing cannot be maintained by residents if proper snow removal by the city is done in tandem. There is nowhere to put the snow. As well a bylaw such as this would put hardship on seniors, those with a physical disability and those with a fixed income. You are suggesting that an individual who has no means of clearing the snow themselves, no additional monies to pay the kid on the street $50.00 every time the city plows snow into the sidewalk? Wake up me son.

    • John Smith
      January 10, 2014 - 10:50

      sidewalks?? There is a rock hard pile of snow ten feet high, and 15 feet wide where the sidewalk used to be in front of my place....and you expect citizens to remove that??? give me a break...

    • Jay
      January 10, 2014 - 15:51

      Steve, I've lived in numerous cities in Canada. The people of St. John's do a tremendous job of cleaning their sidewalks. Then council plows come and dump tons of heavy ice on those sidewalks, making it impossible to clear anymore away. Go out and look at the individuals shovelling and snow blowing before you make such stupid claims. The residents are doing their jobs, while it seems that some councillors want to make the residents the enemy, it is now it's time for the city to do its job.

  • ian
    January 10, 2014 - 09:23

    i was in a very big rush trying to get back to my house, there was a dump truck on the street andd no indication that clearing was going on. I waited fr traffic to pas the truck and when I figured ti was ok to go, one of your pickups pulled across the entire road and cut me off. I was a block from my house and the side roads blocked off with baracades. sometimes you guys bring it on yourself. that jerk in the pickup would not even talk to me so he got a few f-bombs thrown at him cause he was being a jerk. your dump truck drivers barrel down the road and intimidate drivers, maybe they should learn some respect for other drivers as well and maybe some of your staff need to take courses on how to behave while on the job. the guy was a straight up jerk to me. Respect is earned not given right out. Earn the respect by being half decent with drivers and not acting like you are the law when it comes to the roads.

  • Grandma
    January 10, 2014 - 07:58

    The city used to dump snow in the harbour, has this practice ceased? It was certainly preferable to dumping on peoples lawns as seems to be the current practice.

    • James
      January 10, 2014 - 10:57

      Granny - they still dump it in the harbor. There is more than one bag of garbage floating around down there that the city snowblower sucked up and put it into the dumptruck

  • Grandma
    January 10, 2014 - 07:56

    The city used to dump snow in the harbour, has this practice ceased? It was certainly preferable to dumping on peoples lawns as seems to be the current practice.

  • Anna
    January 10, 2014 - 07:38

    Sidewalk clearing is taking a backseat for the time being, according to the city’s website. This says it all, what City Council really thinks of its citizens. I think it is time for a new Deputy City of Public Works. One who can bring new ideas to how to manage snow in winter. It's not like we never get snow so why are they so ill equipped to handle it. In the meantime, there is no excuse for people to be so ignorant.

  • Chris
    January 10, 2014 - 07:15

    #1 - the problem is when you are on the highway travelling at a very slow speed, or on streets Portugal Cove road around Windsor Lake and the parkway at rush hour...NOT when you are actually doing some work! Have some courtesy yourselves, and pull over when you see a line of cars behind you! #2 - TURN OFF THOSE BLASTED HEADLIGHTS ON THE BACK OF YOUR MACHINES!. When you are travelling at night, and come up behind one of these tractors, those lights are blinding! I can understand,again, when your are actually doing some work, but please turn them off when travelling from one job to another!

  • Linda W.
    January 10, 2014 - 06:23

    These people, along with the NL Hydro workers are under a lot of stress as it is working long hours and people don't seem to appreciate all they do to make our lives liveable again. A million thanks to those hard workers!!!