KAWARTHA LAKES-In November 2021 City council doubled with minimum snowfall accumulation required to initiate snow removal on Arterial city roads as well as the cycle time for clearing our roads.
Since at least 1995 the minimum snowfall required before plowing was to be initiated was 2.5 cm of accumulation on arterial roads with plows cycling every 4 hours. That changed in 2021 with council renumbering the previous policy and changing the requirements to 5 cm of snow accumulation with a 6-hour cycle. Other residential roads were changed from 8cm and a 12-hour cycle to 10-12 cm and a 16 hour cycle.
The changes came about after the Lindsay Downtown Business Improvement Area asked council to consider removing snowbanks at a lower level than was currently in the policy.
A pilot project was initiated in the 2020/21 winter season which would see downtown Lindsay receive the same level of sidewalk service as other Downtown Areas in the City and the level of service was adjusted so that the snowbank removal in all Downtown Areas be triggered at .5 meters instead of .9 meters. In November 2021 council voted to make that permanent and a number of other changes to the winter maintenance policy were added including the change to the snow accumulation level and cycle times.
A memo sent to council said the revisions contained in these two Levels of Service (LOS) are primarily concerned with mitigation of liability to protect the City of Kawartha Lakes from unnecessary exposure to legal action should the standards not be met.
“The revisions proposed to these two LOS’s are recommended as they mirror the requirements of O. Reg. 239/02 ‘Minimum Maintenance Standards’ (MMS) of the Municipal Act, which is a municipality’s primary defense against legal actions related to road and sidewalk issues. Alignment with the MMS provides a clear and unified standard which will better enable the City to protect its property taxpaying residents from legal expenses related to lawsuits against the City.” said Bryan Robinson, Director of Public Works in a report to council.
On Sunday a Snow Squall warning was issued for northern Kawartha Lakes with heavy snow predicted to start in the afternoon. After hours of snow and many people reporting their roads hadn’t been plowed, including mine, the City declared a Significant Weather Event (SWE) suspending all standards for snow removal. Sources told Kawartha 411 crews had been called out at 4am on Sunday, long before the snow started. For example, GilMar Road, which would be considered a residential road, was plowed at 5:03 am on Sunday and not touched again until Monday morning at 7:21am. Meaning more than 12 hours went by between the time Gilmar was plowed on Sunday morning and the time the City declared a SWE at 5:51 on Sunday evening. It also means it was more than 24 between plows on Gilmar Road. During that time Environment Canada predicted snowfall rates of 5cm per hour. We asked the city why crews were out before the storm started.
“Response to winter events occurs as needed. The City has three skilled winter
patrollers on the road at all times. They evaluate conditions and incoming weather and
make decisions to deploy resources as needed. Resources were deployed as needed.” Robinson told Kawartha 411 News.
We also asked why the standard was not met for hours before the declaration of a “Significant Weather Event”.
“All available resources were deployed to respond to the winter event.” Robinson responded. “The City opts to declare a significant event during an occasion that we are unable to achieve compliance with Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS). Some municipalities opt to declare a significant weather event based on forecast. The City of Kawartha Lakes’ current practice is to respond to events and monitor conditions. ”
Some areas were hit hard and others received relatively little snowfall. We wondered if plow crews were moved from areas where there was very little snow to
areas that received a lot of snow and if so we wanted examples.
“All available resources were deployed to address the winter conditions across the City.
There was no availability to move crews from one location to assist in others.” Robinson said.
This is the second time in two years the City has declared a SWE with a similar incident in December 2023 that left several people snowed in for days.
Larry Radzio has been stuck at home near Sebright for five days in December 2023. He told kawartha 411 News that Day Drive had not been plowed once since the 23rd of December and was completely impassable leaving residents stranded and vulnerable in case of emergency.
“It definitely makes us upset, we’ve been talking down here and we need coverage if there’s anything more serious happening people aren’t going to get in, you can’t get ambulances in,” Radzio told Kawartha 411 News. “I haven’t heard of anyone here yet with that kind of emergency but definitely there’s a couple in the Sebright area with a sick baby and one lady in our area, her husband is in ICU and she hasn’t been able to see him in for five or six days.”
Radzio wasn’t alone. A number of people had taken to social media wondering where all the plows were.
In December 2023, Troy Parker said “Has anyone heard anything about plows today? Day Drive still hasn’t been touched.”
“Can someone please plow the lane at Head River Lane. We are snowed in and I have a sick 13-month-old baby and I need to go to Toronto just in case I need the hospital,” said Allen Lepine. “I was here to visit my parents for Christmas now we are stuck, please someone come help us please,” he begged at the time. Read the full story here: https://www.kawartha411.ca/2022/12/28/anger-builds-as-some-residents-still-waiting-for-roads-to-be-plowed-following-christmas-storm/
Many of the roads in question were plowed Monday morning.