Southlands section forgotten by snowclearing crews: mayor

Daniel MacEachern
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Southlands was Snowlands Wednesday morning, and St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe apologized to residents forgotten by snowplow crews.

A City of St. John’s heavy equipment operator clears snow from the Ironwood Place cul-de-sac off of Cheeseman Drive in Southlands Wednesday morning. The city received numerous complaints from residents in Southlands about a lack of snowclearing by city crews.

“The complaints are quite legitimate, and we’ll get down to what actually happened when the shift comes back on. They’re on rest now,” O’Keefe said Wednesday afternoon, adding four streets in Southlands — Sumac Street, Douglas Street, Sitka Street and Kenai Crescent — were missed by the city’s snowplow crews following this week’s heavy snowfall.

Residents who spoke to The Telegram complained of untouched streets and stuck vehicles, making the morning commute a mess.

“Essentially, the equipment was in the area, as it was right across town, and somehow that four-street block got missed, and we have to find out why,” said O’Keefe.

O’Keefe said as soon as the mistake was discovered, Paul Mackey, the city’s deputy manager of public works, dispatched equipment to clear the streets Wednesday morning.

“I apologize for the fact that it did get missed,” said O’Keefe, adding that “Mother Nature took a 40-centimetre slap at us” and he hopes that’s the season’s last heavy snowfall. “But you never know. I’ve had slaps like that in the past on May 24 and a little bit later, but hopefully this is the end of it. All our routes are covered. All our equipment is out. The teams, the shifts, are on duty with the appropriate overtime, so everything is fully covered.”

The mayor said crews on Wednesday were concentrating on high-drift areas, and crews over­night would focus on the downtown core of St. John’s, including residential areas.

“If this is our last smack — and I know how frustrated people are, we all are, with the length and volume of snow — if this is the last of it, and we’re not into a ‘sprinter,’ as some people are referring to it, and I hope that is not the case, then over the next few days, everything should get pretty well cleared up speedily. Sidewalks are being tackled today too.”

O’Keefe said 30 employees who had been reassigned to other duties last month — part of the city’s annual overall paring-down of snowclearing staff, a heavily criticized move this year that reduced the workforce by 130 people — have been brought back to snowclearing operations.

Mackey declined to be interviewed by The Telegram, directing questions to the city’s communications department.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Geographic location: Southlands, Sumac Street, Douglas Street Sitka Street

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Recent comments

  • steve
    April 03, 2014 - 18:30

    You also forgot to mention Cypress street, Teakwood Drive, Cheeseman Drive, etc. Not 4 streets....more like 14. Way to make it sound like only a few people were affected.

  • Southlander
    April 03, 2014 - 14:51

    People are talking about this like it was the first time it ever happened, I have lived in the Southlands for 9 years and it is a constant battle with the city of St. John's about snow clearing. This area pays above average taxes for below average services. You think they would be going out of their way promoting how good things are in the area in order to attract more lucrative tax payers, yet they can't seem to get their head out of you know what! All this equipment talk is BS, they need to put a local depot in the area to properly service and get away from this antiquated numbering system they keep going on about. People are getting to the end of their rope on this one and suggest we start seeing some action and less lips flapping.

  • Dolf
    April 03, 2014 - 14:43

    Greed to grow has made the whole council too big for its boots.

  • Southlands parent
    April 03, 2014 - 13:05

    'Oversight', 'Forgot'. Give me a break. I think the real issue is the City of St.John's wants to collect the tax revenue and give nothing back. The snowclearing effort is absolutely horrendous in Southlands. Has been that way for years. I'd be glad to shovel the sidewalk in front of my house, but I'd have to clean 15' of the street to get to it. I think the residents in Soulthlands should be able to vote to see which city they would like their tax $ to go. Mt.Pearl would get my vote.

  • guy incognito
    April 03, 2014 - 12:34

    Waterford bridge road is always clear and the sidewalks are always done. We can't have poor old Doc taking his morning walk on roads that aren't clear....

  • Beverly Patey
    April 03, 2014 - 12:10

    the city council has shown a considerable lack of willingness to put more resources in thw snow clearing/snow removal & sidewalks. Lack of foresight & planning is evident wherever you travel throughout St. John's. It is only by luck that nobody has been killed or badly injured. - pedestrians I mean.

  • barry
    April 03, 2014 - 11:01

    pretty sad when a city councillor has to use his own personal plow to remove snow from southlands ..the operator missed the streets , because he didnt know they were real streets ..hope wally collins gets the nod for city manager .he is dependable ,, knows how snowclearing needs to be done , and can backfill for snowclearing in emergencies.

  • Alan
    April 03, 2014 - 10:05

    "Mackey declined to be interviewed by The Telegram, directing questions to the city’s communications department." That is just cowardly

    • guy incognito
      April 03, 2014 - 12:32

      The communications department will probably decline the interview too

  • Brian
    April 03, 2014 - 09:39

    Sherry is exactly right, I'm on Bayberry, we saw the plow at 1 am then the next day around 0800. Myself and a neighbour shovelled a bus stuck in front of the house. Just shows how little " they" know about what goes on. On a side note , there is more equipment in here today than I've seen all winter.....give me a break. If this is any other day with no snow in the forecast " We" all know they would not be here. You screwed up City Hall.....last time I checked April is a winter month in NL regardless of what the calendar says. I wonder what would happen if Southlands forgot to pay their taxes on the day they are due....?

  • dan
    April 03, 2014 - 09:19

    "...Mackey declined to be interviewed by The Telegram, directing questions to the city’s communications department" hahaha now we know why they have that bunch of spin doctors eh Doc????

  • Sherry Myles
    April 03, 2014 - 08:23

    These 4 streets in Southlands indeed were not plowed, but they were not the only Southlands streets left untouched by snow plows. I live on Palm Drive and our street, along with Almond Crescent, Bayberry Place, Parkview Crescent, and Ironwood Place also were not plowed for approx. 30 hours. The city (311) was called multiple times by residents including myself and yet they claim that no one knew about it until Wednesday morning. It's not good enough to apologize for the oversight and report false facts about the number of streets/residents affected.

  • Newfie
    April 03, 2014 - 07:42

    Come into St. John's take a good look at our streets,,and see the task our kids and the elderly got to go through ,,just to get around,,,no sidewalks done,,no bus shelters cleared out,,,,it's unreal,,,and embarrassing at the same time,,,,

  • Newfie
    April 03, 2014 - 07:40

    Come into St. John's take a good look at our streets,,and see the task our kids and the elderly got to go through ,,just to get around,,,no sidewalks done,,no bus shelters cleared out,,,,it's unreal,,,and embarrassing at the same time,,,,

  • Aub
    April 03, 2014 - 07:13

    Should be part of Mount Pearl because of its physical proximity to it.

    • wtf
      April 03, 2014 - 10:48

      Following that logic then MP should be part of SJ.

  • carogers
    April 03, 2014 - 06:47

    When 50 are doing the job of 150 it takes 16 hour days so mistakes are bound to happen. He should be apologizing to the plow driver for putting him out there for so long .

  • santo
    April 03, 2014 - 06:29

    This is what happens when people are over worked. Imagine what those plow operators must have felt like being out in that storm for hours and hours and hours, everything must have looked the same to them. All white.... I feel bad for them..................... On the other side of it, I'm sure the city don't forget to collect your taxes.