After a long period of public engagement and a pilot program spread over two winters, the City of Fernie has formally adopted its new snow and ice removal policy.
The process to review the city’s existing policy began almost four years ago, and evolved into a full operational practice review by August-September 2019, and an operational pilot alongside stakeholder engagement by February 2020 continuing through to the end of the 2020-2021 winter season.
At the Nov. 22 council meeting, councillors unanimously supported the new policy’s adoption, and it is now in effect.
According to the city’s Manager of Sustainable Service Delivery, Lisa Janssen, stakeholder engagement through the years had shown that Fernie wanted curb-t0-curb, seven-day plowing service, commercial lane-way access, a multi-modal approach (including sidewalks), school zone safety, downtown accessibility, a driveway windrow program and centre plowing and hauling in areas where it was appropriate.
Janssen said that each priority had been addressed through the new policy, but added that downtown accessibility remains a work in progress, while centre plowing and hauling had been wound back to the downtown core.
The windrow policy of old has also been repealed, with a new policy in place that allows staff more time to clear windrows (up to 48 hours), and an extension to the deadline for applications from Dec. 15 each year to Jan. 15 for the coming season.
To implement the new snow and ice removal policy, staff requested an increase in the 2022 operational budget for snow and ice removal to the tune of $180,000, raising the total budget allocation to just over a million dollars. The increase represented a jump of 19 percent compared to the 2021 budget.
According to the staff report, a thread that has wound its way through the process is a lack of alignment between constituent expectations and the city’s ability to deliver on services, which resulted in “a culmination of negative discourse in the community in reason snow seasons” that lead to “low organizational morale”, contributing to the need for a review of the policy.
Ongoing engagement and feedback on the newly adopted policy can be done through the city’s ‘Let’s Talk’ website, and by emailing email@example.com.
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