Councillor suggests keeping temporary snowclearing staff past April 1
St. John’s will consider changing its snowclearing policy to keep temporary staff working longer into the spring.
Coun. Art Puddister introduced a motion at Monday night’s regular council meeting proposing that seasonal snowclearing workers’ employment be extended to coincide with the removal of the
winter on-street parking ban, usually April 1.
City policy has been to lay off seasonal snowclearing workers in the third week of March.
Puddister also proposed city council be more directly involved in the decision about when to lay off workers, a decision currently made by Paul Mackey, the city’s deputy city manager of public works.
“We all know what happened this past spring,” said Puddister, referring to heavy snowfall that hit St. John’s after the city reduced its snowclearing complement from 180 to 50, prompting public criticism and demonstrations. “This is a winter that started early, it’s ending late and everybody’s had their fill of winter. … We need to be more involved. Mr. Mackey can come and say to us, ‘You approved 18 weeks. If you feel you need another two weeks, here’s what the cost is going to be,’ and so on.”
Puddister acknowledged the city has already approved an independent study of its snowclearing operations, but said his proposals should be forwarded immediately to the city’s public works committee.
Coun. Jonathan Galgay, chairman of that committee, supported Puddister’s motion, but said he didn’t want to “jump the gun” on the review, which the city hopes to have completed in time for next winter.
Puddister noted the motion was solely to have the public works committee consider his proposals.
“Perhaps the findings of that can still be taken into consideration in the review, to ensure that if we need to extend from April 1 onward, that that would also be taken into account,” said Galgay.
Puddister’s motion passed unanimously, and the proposals will be considered by the public works committee.