Winnipeg’s prioritized snow clearing system facing backlash

WINNIPEG –

City crews are still clearing snow from last week’s storm, but not everyone is pleased with the plowing efforts on sidewalks and bike paths.

Alan Christensen is waiting for a hip replacement and needs a cane as he navigates Winnipeg sidewalks, which he said can be tricky after a storm.

“Hit and miss,” Christensen told CTV News on Tuesday. “Today is fine because they’re slushy rather than icy. But as soon as we get a bit colder, some of those slushy areas are going to be pretty slippery.”

On social media, some people are dissatisfied with the city’s snow removal efforts for sidewalks and bike paths. They would like to see them cleared sooner, the same way major streets get done. Christensen agrees with them.

“It’s always been that way – it’s cars before people,” he said.

In Winnipeg, city crews clear snow on a priority system. Major streets are plowed first along with adjacent sidewalks. But less travelled routes, like residential sidewalks, get done later when equipment is available.

The city prioritizes the high volume streets and back lanes, for emergency vehicles, garbage and recycling. The city said clearing sidewalks takes more time to complete compared to clearing streets, as sidewalk plows travel more slowly.

“I know that our public service will point out that we do well in terms of snow clearing as a winter city, but I think there’s always more that can be done,” said Coun. Matt Allard, chair of the Infrastructure Committee.

City officials are set to do a report on what improvements could be made. At the end of the day, Allard said it could come down to money for more equipment and staff.

“I think an obvious solution though is to have more resources dedicated to sidewalk plows,” he said. “That means dollars – that means finding those dollars either within budget or considering other ways of raising revenue.”

Cyclist Ryan Murray said even with his winter tires he is slipping and sliding on the bike paths. But he understands the city can only do so much.”

“I’m okay that the streets are being prioritized, that being said I would like to see the bike paths get cleared up,” he said.

Allard said his office is getting more complaints about sidewalk snow clearing this year. He attributes it to the pandemic as more people are taking more notice of their sidewalks because they are working from home. 

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