Snow clearing good enough? Council talks

Snow clearing was still on the agenda at the March 7 meeting of Lake Cowichan's public works committee.

Icy roads and sidewalks have been a concern this winter in Lake Cowichan.

Icy roads and sidewalks have been a concern this winter in Lake Cowichan.

Snow clearing was still on the agenda at the March 7 meeting of Lake Cowichan’s public works committee, and no wonder: snow was still in the forecast for that night.

It has been an unusual year for the white stuff, everyone around the council table admitted, but that’s not stopping councillors from trying to address complaints.

Council finally decided that its first step would be to post the current “snow removal process” on the Town of Lake Cowichan website as a draft policy but not before kicking the idea around a bit first.

Coun. Bob Day said that “without quibbling about who owns what [property],” sidewalk snow clearance was not acceptable, in his opinion.

“We talk about walkability. I know this is an extraordinary year. If we want homeowners to clear their sidewalks [by 10 a.m.], we should have that done as well somehow. I like to walk and I couldn’t walk on the sidewalks. I had to drive. We’re not doing a good enough job,” he said.

Coun. Lorna Vomacka asked when the sidewalks on the bridge were to be cleared.

Rizk said, “It comes after clearing the roads. We don’t have the manpower to do both.”

Questions arose about buying some snow blowers or other equipment to clear the sidewalks in town, with CAO Joe Fernandez recalling that 20 years ago a contractor used to do it all very successfully.

Vomacka and Coun. Tim McGonigle both wondered if it could be possible to hire a contractor now or if that contravenes the contract with the town’s public works crew.

McGonigle said that, within the budget, “we have to do the best we can,” but suggested that it might be possible to get some equipment and bring in some of the laid-off summer workers to help with the job.

Don’t forget, he said, “Our snow removal budget is 48 per cent more than Victoria’s.”

Day agreed that starting with publishing the snow clearing information on the website was a good start but added, “I’m getting stuck on asking our residents to do it and we’re not doing it.”

Coun. Carolyne Austin said, “It looks bad. I agree.”

Day admitted that in some years, like this one, whatever is done will never be enough.

“I don’t know where you’re getting the money to do it this year,” he said.

Fernandez suggested putting up the information as a draft policy and McGonigle said discussions could continue when council works on its budget for the coming year.

Lake Cowichan Gazette

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