Public Works Committee Punts Sidewalk/Pathway Snow Removal Report – Timeframe In Limbo
On February 28, 2017, Winnipeg’s Public Service told the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal & Public Works (IRPW) that there would be financial implications to improving snow removal on sidewalks and pathways. As a result, IRPW requested that the Report on Active Transportation Network – Winter Maintenance Strategy, with financial details be delayed until September, 2017.
- SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 UPDATE: Today, the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works granted another extension of time to November 21, 2017 for the Winnipeg Public Service to report back on the following: Innovative alternatives for snow-clearing, sanding/salting operations, and spring cleanup operations that are a direct result from winter sand/salt operations that can result in long-term savings and service improvements
Delaying the report is significant because it essentially eliminates any chance of improved sidewalk and pathway clearing for Winter 2017-2018 and potentially later:
- By fall, 2017, the budgetary process for 2018 will be virtually complete. Any NEW financial requests in the report more than likely will NOT be considered so late in the budgetary process. Having served on the City Budget Committee for the past 3 years, I’ve seen only very nominal amounts approved AFTER the budget is determined.
- With the report expected in fall, this essentially eliminates any chance of seeing improvements to snow removal on sidewalks/pathways in winter 2017-2018.
- The year 2018 is a civic election year, and increasing any budget in an election year, from what I gather, is not desirable.
- So, it could be that we may not see improved snow removal until 2019, if at all.
MY WORK to date on improving snow removal on sidewalks and pathways:
- I invested significant time with Public Works Maintenance Staff and City of Winnipeg Contractors, listening to their perspectives on snow removal maintenance on the Active Transportation network.
- Having spent over a decade closely analyzing snow removal from a ‘users’ perspective, I invested much time learning the nuances and challenges of snow removal from the perspective of the maintenance staff.
- I went out on night plows on graders, rode in truck plow convoys, and visited Public Works maintenance yards to learn about the equipment used as well as the challenges faced in clearing snow from the active transportation infrastructure.
- I hosted a series of community events to gather perspectives from a wide range of user groups:
- I gathered input at a ‘Winter Maintenance of the AT Network’ Event at The Forks
- I hosted a public event with Winnipeg Transit, Public Works and Parks department representatives who provide a detailed overview of clearing snow on the Active Transportation Network
Over the past 12 years, the City has constructed many new sidewalks, bike lanes and pathways, but has not completed a comprehensive review of snow removal on the entire network.
In 2016, Council passed the Active Transportation Action Plan which identified many action items related to winter maintenance. In light of these factors, and the public’s strong desire to be active in the winter, I felt we must do a comprehensive review to look at potential efficiencies, improved connectivity, prioritizations, costs and more.
- From the insight I gathered in my dual role as Councillor and Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works (IRPW), I strongly felt it was time to do a comprehensive review of snow removal. I brought forward the following Motion, which received unanimous support by IRPW Committee members:
- Develop an updated Active Transportation Network Winter Maintenance Strategy;
- Work with stakeholders, including the Winnipeg Trails Association, Bike Winnipeg, Manitoban League of Persons with Disabilities, and City of Winnipeg Active Transportation Advisory Committee representatives, to establish specific Terms of Reference for reviewing and developing a winter maintenance strategy, with all maintenance delivered by the Winnipeg Public Service, based on priority for the Active Transportation Network as part of the 2016 Active Transportation Action Plan;
- That the costs associated with annual maintenance of the Network are identified, be effectively communicated through web map applications, and align with the goals and strategies contained within the Transportation Master Plan and Pedestrian and Cycling Strategies;
- That the Winnipeg Public Service report back to the Standing Policy Committee in 210 days (i.e. deadline of November 2016)
- Mayor Bowman appointed Councillor Morantz as the new Chair of the Standing Police Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works
- Winnipeg Public Service requested more time to prepare a report (extension to January 2017)
- Winnipeg Public Service once again requested more to prepare a report (extension to February 2017)
- Winnipeg Public Service states that following discussions with stakeholders, there will be financial implications and the financial request should be tied into the budgetary process.
- Committee Chair Morantz then asks that the report be brought back in September, 2017. He notes this report is NOT to be part of the Alternatives for Snow Removal report – but independent – just that it come back to the committee in September.
IN SUMMARY, how decisions are made at City Hall is not always transparent:
- Winnipeg City Council operates under the ‘strong mayor governance model’, meaning the Mayor has tremendous influence/power over Executive Policy members and Committee decisions.
- I’ve expressed concerns to the Mayor about this model and the fact that we’ve not had a review or update of the model in almost 20 years. He has informed me, he likes the model because it makes him accountable.
- I am supporting a call to review the dated governance model that I think can be improved upon.
- Essentially, how this matter proceeds, is at the discretion of the Mayor. The significance of having this report come back in September, 2017 is very concerning. I encourage you to provide your feedback: Contact Mayor