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State of emergency remains in effect in St. John’s

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen said implementing parking relief for downtown “creates the same conditions across the city.”
St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen says the state of emergency in the capital city remains a day-to-day situation, as crews continue to clean up from last Friday's historic blizzard. - SaltWire File Photo

Emergency procedure needs review: mayor

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen says the state of emergency in the capital city remains a day-to-day situation, as crews continue to clean up from last Friday's historic blizzard.

Breen says there are a few roads in the city yet to open, but snowclearing crews are making good progress in getting the city somewhat back to normal.

“We’ve gone back to our priority system. We have blowers out now doing widening on multi-lane roads and thoroughfares, the priority ones. We’re making good headway with it,” he said.

“We have all of our staff and equipment working around the clock. We have additional equipment that’s been brought in from Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander. We have three snowblowers that will start tomorrow along with crews from the provincial Department of Transportation and Works. We’re getting a good bit done.”

The new equipment will double the snowblower contingent for the city, as pushing the snow with a plow isn’t effective anymore.

“Pushing back just isn’t working with such a volume of snow. We’re going to have to go in place where we have a spot to blow it on open spaces or lawn space available. It’s limited, but if it’s there, we can do it. In many cases we’ll be trucking that out,” he said.

Lifted restrictions in St. John’s state of emergency for Wednesday, Jan. 22

  • YYT resumes operations at 5 a.m. 

  • Taxis begin full operations at 12 a.m.

  • Oil companies permitted to begin home heating fuel deliveries.

  • Family doctors and specialists permitted to open at 8 a.m.

  • Robin Hood Bay landfill open to commercial haulers and other municipal customers only, no garbage or recycling pickup on for residents

  • Pharmacies and food stores permitted to open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Private snow contractors and associated equipment maintenance shops may continue to operate.

  • Gas stations may open.

  • 24-hour parking ban outside the downtown and business district is in effect; parking is not permitted on City streets in this area.

With the airport set to reopen, grocery stores and pharmacies allowed to open for a second day running, and doctors’ offices opening for the first time since Jan. 16, Breen says the city is trying to allow residents to get the essentials.

Taxi services are also allowed back on the road to allow people to get to the reopened essential services.

Breen says the lifting of restrictions is the new normal, for now. He doesn’t anticipate a situation where pharmacies open one day will be unable to open the next, for the duration of the state of emergency.

“What we needed to do is to get access to roads, get the cars off the roads to allow the work to be done. Now that we’ve got the main roads widened out, that takes a little bit of that pressure away,” he said.

It’s early in the cleanup from the blizzard and an operational review has yet to begin, but Breen says there are some lessons to be learned from the situation, whenever the next monster storm occurs.

“We need to review this whole state of emergency procedure and process. It’s one that hasn’t been used in the city in about 35 years. The city has changed a lot in 35 years,” he said.

“If you look at service stations now, pretty much all of them have convenience stores. Drugstores, pharmacies, pretty much all sell other things, like groceries. The city has changed, and the way a city operates has changed, but the abilities under that act haven’t changed. We need to look at that.”

How municipalities on the northeast Avalon can co-operate in such extreme circumstances is another issue to address once the immediate emergency is dealt with, says Breen.

Neighbouring Mount Pearl and Paradise lifted portions of their states of emergency two days after the storm, with St. John’s now lifting some restrictions days later. The differing states of emergency have led to confusion for residents, which Breen says will take co-operation to address in the future.

“To residents, the boundaries are transparent,” he said.

“That’s where it becomes confusing, that you have different things you can do in different municipalities. We work together on a lot of different things — wastewater, fire services, landfill. We can figure this out.”

Twitter: @DavidMaherNL

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