Following up to last week’s post on the latest round of Snow Policy work, I can confirm that Council intervened and, as you may have read in the media, the blanket seasonal parking ban on bus routes has been suspended.
At the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting on September 6, I proposed that all we need to do is re-define what we mean by Snow Route. Then we can continue to use the existing signage, rather than spend more money on new signs. (Although in newer areas signage for snow routes would need to be added along bus routes).
Snow Routes as currently defined in the Transportation Bylaw can be declared in effect after a snowfall, which then bans parking for 72 hours to facilitate snow removal. They haven’t been declared since 1994. Part of the challenge is that we really need cars out of the way when it starts snowing so we can get the plows through quickly and push windrows against the curb. It then can take several weeks to remove those windrows, so the parking restriction would need to remain in place until the windrows have been removed and then and only then would parking be restored.
Most of the feedback I’ve received understands this kind of tradeoff; people were really concerned about losing the parking for the whole winter, but I believe most can accept losing it for short periods to facilitate quicker and cost effective plowing and removal.
The other main concern I, and others, heard was that if those residents on Snow Routes were going to be forced to use their alleys for a period of time they should get some priority to ensure continued access to their on-site parking at the rear of their properties. Transportation Services agreed with that.
Others are opposed to losing parking at all but we all learned last year that it’s futile to manage snow around parked cars on busy roads.
Other cities made different (probably better) decisions and have wide boulevards where they can push that snow but regrettably Edmonton only has boulevards on about a third of our streets. I wish we could change that but all we can do now is push to have boulevards again on bus routes in new neighbourhoods being built, and perhaps make some retrofits over time, which the city is looking at.
The other parking change that was discussed, but somewhat overshadowed, was for narrow local roads (less than 8.8 metres). This will go ahead year-round for safety reasons, mainly to ensure access for emergency vehicles; however, this will only restrict parking to one side of the street. On-street parking will still be available for residents, it might just be across the street now. And yes there will be half as much, but this move is long overdue.
The other major discussion was about moving to bare pavement rather than a 5cm snow pack on local roads. This will mean bigger windrows, and perhaps a tradeoff that people will be responsible for clearing larger windrows from their own driveways. Discussion on this will continue at Council tomorrow, Sept 14.