Union says plows redirected from Southlands during storm

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Streets weren’t mistakenly missed in Southlands during last week’s snowstorm, claims the union representing St. John’s snowplow workers.

A resident of Southlands clears a driveway after last week’s heavy snowfall.

Canadian Union of Public Employees national representative Ed White said Monday St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe has been misinformed.

After last week’s storm, which enraged snowed-in residents in Southlands, O’Keefe apologized.

O’Keefe claimed crews did not plow a four-street section of Southlands because they were accidentally missed as plows hit the streets following the

40-centimetre dump April 1-2.

Southlands residents, however, said more than those streets were missed.

“The members of Local 569 are taking issue with some of the public statements that have been made about recent storm events and snowclearing,” White said in a news release.

“First of all, we do not believe the mayor has been fully informed. The streets that were supposedly missed in the Southlands area of the city were a result of equipment being redirected to other areas to deal with heavy drifting.”  

White pointed out the city uses an automated vehicle locator (AVL) system and could have recognized that some of the streets in Southlands had not been plowed.

“As has already been discussed at length in the media, the layoff of seasonal staff at a time when a significant snowfall was forecasted was definitely a major factor in the problems from last week’s storm,” he said.

The city is planning an independent review of its public works department’s snowclearing operations.

Local 569 president Terry Bennett said the union “cautiously” agrees with a review, but is concerned who or what has expertise to conduct such a review.  

“Any review will be a waste of taxpayers’ money unless extensive consultation is undertaken with the men and women that operate the equipment for the city,” Bennett said.


Organizations: Union of Public Employees

Geographic location: Southlands

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Recent comments

  • Richard
    April 08, 2014 - 08:25

    The provincial gov't is to blame here as well as the city. Southlands should have part of Mt. Pearl from day 1. The only thing the city wants out of Southlands is the tax revenue without putting anything back. Its been a week since the storm and there is not 1 street that I have seen in Southlands that 2 cars can pass other. Each driveway is extended 5 - 15 feet from both sides. And now to see the City and the union giving different accounts of what happened is brutal. Love living in Southlands. Hate being a resident of St. John's. Now go spend a 100k and have someone tell you that the snow clearing effort is brutal.

  • Denise
    April 08, 2014 - 07:42

    to do a review, it would be requireed to be doone during the snow season. It is evident to see that on ALL streets on that the plow does not clear or even attempt to clear 2 feet from the sidewalk even on days following the snow fall. This needs to change and can easily be done. perhaps operating procedures need to be addressed so the operators get instructions to move snow off the street

  • Lisa
    April 08, 2014 - 06:03

    The city did not miss 4 streets as is continuously being stated- it missed all streets off the main road. And this is the 3rd time Sequoia Drive was missed for over a 24 hr period after a significant snowfall. If there had been a need for an emergency vehicle to respond to these areas, they would not have been able too! Unacceptable when I think of what my taxes are in that area!

  • J
    April 08, 2014 - 05:56

    I agree. Any snow clearing review should inlcude the folks who actual Operate the equipment. Why not make it a weeklong workshop facilitated by someone versed in Lean methodology. You never know, it could do wonders. I'll do you one better though.