Is There a Walkable Winter Wonderland Ahead?
St. John’s Plans to Clear Sidewalks This Year

As much as last winter was the winter of #DarkNL and the death of Kathy Dunderdale’s premiership, it was the winter of snowclearing protests, runaway garbage trucks, and sidewalks used for snow storage by the city.

Last summer, a snowclearing review process was conducted on behalf of the City by KPMG
Consultants, with the goal being, “How can we do a better job of snowclearing?”

There was a focus on new bang-for-buck practices we could adopt for now, as we better assess mid-to-longterm plans for ameliorated city snowclearing.

After a council meeting this week, a “Qucik Hits” document was released, detailing some plans for the coming winter.

The “quick hit” document vows to provide a more walkable city this year, via better sidewalk clearing. “We acknowledge that not enough was done for pedestrians and sidewalks during last year’s most challenging winter, particularly in the downtown core,” said Councillor Jonathan Galgay.

The City will invest in a pilot program to hire a dedicated sidewalk crew, working on the day shift, to supplement existing sidewalk resources.

The City will also invest more heavily in keeping the downtown core more clear of snow than it was last year, so as to not let snow disrupt business for retailers and shoppers alike.

“We want to ensure that main sidewalks, especially in the downtown core, are not blocked by snow pushed back from the roads and that snow storage capacity on the roads is preserved,” explained Councillor Galgay.

“For this reason, we must add resources, internally and externally, to our snow removal processes.” The total investment to achieve all approved “quick hit” recommendations is an estimated $1.65 million.

To summarize the plan for the coming winter, we’re being told to expect more snow removal, a pilot sidewalk clearing project, improved staff training, and an extended winter season, which will start earlier (to accommodate training) and ending later (to minimize the risk of being under-resourced for late-season storms).

The City is also considering starting its on-street parking ban early, “beginning with the first snow fall in excessive of 10cm.”

The final report, due to be released in early November, will include more extensive operational suggestions including considerations on some longer-term plans, such as the possibility of additional snow dumping sites and consideration of satellite depots.