Sparwood to look at snow and ice issues

Mayor and Council have decided to form a select committee to look at Sparwood's snow and ice policies.

After a great deal of community concern, the District of Sparwood is going to take an in depth look at the snow and ice removal policies and procedures currently in place. In recent, the biggest amount of upset residents are voicing is over windrows, most feeling like it is the District’s responsibility to remove them. Other issues that have came forward have been ice,  weekend plowing and impeded sightlines by tall heaps of snow at the end of some residents driveways.

In a special meeting, held on August 16th, over twenty five concerned residents attended and a public discussion was held on the current policies  and what can be done to better serve the public. Councilor Sonny Saad was concerned over the possible revamping of  the procedures, “Here we have something that has worked for many, many years, you are going to play with it until it is broken,” he says. The Director of Public Services, Mel Bohmer has expressed that what Public Works does during heavy snowfalls changes daily or hourly depending on snowfall, and that they are always looking for the best way to get the job done for residents of Sparwood. He also expressed the biggest problem is with vehicles parking on the streets, which in turn creates bigger windrows, and more snow and ice issues. There is also an issue facing Public Works during heavy snowfall on where to put all of the snow being hauled away. Duane Allan, a long time Public Works employee said he also agreed with Bohmer, that parking on the street was a concern, but reminded residents that Sparwood’s lack of services are better than any communities best services.  Sparwood resident, Bev Bellina, agreed that something needed to be done, but did not want to see her taxes increase to do so. “There needs to be some time for community input,” she said. Dave Wilks, MP was also in attendance at the meeting and reminded Council that at the end of the day, it was their decision on what needs to be done. “You have to make the choices on the best information you have, seeking all of the community input that you can,” he commented.

During the meeting it was voted in favour, by all attending Council members that a select committee, consisting of Mayor Lois Halko and all of the Council members, as well as also eventually including two members of the public, and possibly contractors will be established to go over all of the District’s snow and ice removal policies to see what can be done to better serve the issues Sparwood resident’s are facing. The select committee will gather in depth public input on issues, concerns and possible solutions.

 Following the Special Meeting, more was discussed on this topic at the Regular Meeting of Council held on August 20th, mainly discussing the issue of people parking on the street, and  what can be done. It was agreed by all council members that parking on the street was an issue, but it was under debate on what the correct solution would be. Council agreed that there were some highly congested areas of Sparwood and that on holidays there may be many vehicles at one residence, but whether or not this will create exemptions is yet undecided.  Mel Bohmer expressed again that many of  the snow and ice issues could be solved or minimized with people removing their vehicles off the street during snowplowing. Council discussed many different ways of dealing with those who are parking on the street from a warning and ticketing system, to a last resort of being towing. Councilor Andy MacIntyre expressed his strong disapproval with towing. “I agree that off street parking would make things easier for plowing, but I don’t agree with ever towing peoples vehicles because of it. It is not the right avenue for us and it is to authoritarian for us,” he said. “The public is really good about stuff when they know about it,” said Councilor Fraser. “People have to know that after two or three warnings towing could happen. People are upset over windrows, and this is always going to be a problem and can go around and around. No one wants to hurt anyone else in this deal, but we have to move forward. In the end of it, we have  to thoroughly advise the public on what could or will happen, be honest and move forward,” she said.

After much discussion, an all in favour decision to forward  the various options on how to deal with parking, as well as all the issues with the snow and ice issues was to pass the it along to the select committee for further review, public input and final decisions.