While the weather may be warming up outside, preparations for snow and ice control along pathways for the 2022-2023 winter season are already underway. Residents will see improved conditions on pathways along roadways, specifically with regional trails being cleared quicker next winter.
Lethbridge City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a recommendation from the Civic Works Standing Policy Committee to adopt Service Level Enhancements for Snow and Ice Control for Pathways Along Roadways, by moving Priority 3B Routes to Priority 2 Routes.
"Our residents who walk these pathways tell us every year they want to see these regional trails cleared faster," says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. "Transit, Parks and Transportation all receive numerous service requests for enhanced snow and ice control on City-controlled pathways and sidewalks, so this is a positive move that will improve mobility during the winter months for pedestrians, cyclists and those with mobility impairments."
Snow and Ice control services for City-controlled roadways are generally controlled by the Transportation department, while City-controlled pathways and sidewalks are generally handled by the Parks department. Both groups have an established service level through various priorities where all City-controlled roadways, pathways and sidewalks are cleared of snow and ice.
"The Transportation and Parks departments believe the enhancement of snow and ice priorities for pathways along roadways aligns better with the policies of City Council and expectations of the general public for more enhanced snow clearing of regional trails that are primarily along arterial roadways," says Darwin Juell, General Manager of Transportation.
The regional trail system has historically been cleared by the Parks department and has been a priority 3B with most adjacent to arterial roadways plowed in a Priority 1 order – which causes intersections and pathways to be plugged with snow piles. The Transportation department has recently started clearing these intersection ramps to allow pedestrian activity as soon as possible after a snowfall. However, the regional trails are still being cleared in a Priority 3B order which can be difficult for pedestrians to navigate after a snowfall, especially if they are mobility impaired.
"The solution is to use higher speed plows along the pathway portions of these regional trails and change the priority to Priority 2 cleared immediately after the arterial Priority 1 roadway plowing is completed," says Blair Richter, General Manager of Parks and Cemeteries. "In addition, the remaining regional trails would be moved from Priority 3B to Priority 2 to match the timing of snow removal for all regional trails."
This service enhancement will also support improved mobility of the City-controlled pathways and sidewalks for the cityLINK Transit system that increases frequency of pickup/drop-offs at bus stops located along these roadways.
This enhancement will not impact any current operating budgets and better aligns with the maintenance recommendations from both the Mobility/Accessibility Master plan and the Cycling Master plan, both adopted by City Council.
Additional resources will be funded through the existing snow and ice control budget that has realized a surplus of approximately $1,750,000 during the past 10 years, which was returned to the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR).