After months of discussion and receiving feedback from residents in council meetings, the District of Sparwood has adopted a snow removal and ice control policy. Among several new changes is the most controversial, that a windrow removal program be implemented for the 2013/2014 snow season.
After concern was expressed from community members, the District formed a select committee in August, consisting of mayor, council, and members of the public, with the intent to take an in-depth look at Sparwood’s current snow and ice removal policies and procedures. The biggest issue to come up was windrows, with many residents feeling it was the District’s responsibility to remove them.
Although the proposed policy brought forward for approval at the April 2 council meeting had been put together by the select committee, there was a clear divide of opinions.
“I will be voting no for the following reasons, I was perfectly happy with the first policy that we did through the snow committee, I am all for seniors and public safety, getting their driveways done, but I do not think we should go through the expense of doing everybody’s driveway,” said Councillor Margaret McKie. “There will be a cost, there are lots of people that are not happy about it. Why would it be fair for someone to pay for this if they don’t want it? I know lots of people here, and I have had lots of discussion with people who feel they don’t want it, they are capable of removing their own windrow.
She went on to say, “This should not just rest on council. I think we need more input from the public and I think this needs to go to them, especially if it means their taxes are going up. They need to have a voice.”
Councillor Andy MacIntyre reminded mayor and council the windrow removal program would be a one year trial and that the specific details, including how it would be paid for, have not yet been decided.
“I think we can be creative in finding solutions to do this now to cover your seniors, your disabled, we can find ways to make this work,” expressed MacIntyre. “The cost isn’t something that we should be looking at in negative terms right now because we don’t know what it is. That’s why with a trial period we can look at here’s the costs, here’s what it looks like, we can do it, or we can’t do it.”
After much discussion among council, Mayor Lois Halko weighed in with her own opinion, stating she would be voting against the policy. She commented, “This has really been difficult, tiresome, and frustrating for all of council and all of us are wanting to make the right decision for our community.
“If passed, this would have to come back with options with regard to cost and levels of service.”
Halko also said she felt residents would have a more cost and service effective windrow removal service if it was handled by contractors and paid for on an individual basis, rather than through the District.
When it came down to decision time, council voted to adopt the new snow and ice policy, including the trial windrow program for next winter. The entire policy can be viewed at the District of Sparwood website at www.sparwood.ca.