Here are some things we learned tonight in Council regarding the #DarkNL situation.
First off, the on-street parking ban comes into effect tomorrow night, January 7th. This means that between 12:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. every night, you cannot have your car parked on the street. Otherwise you will be ticketed!
Snow Clearing and Removal
Crews have been switched to 24/7 operations for several days now for continuous efforts to clear and remove snow. They follow a prioritized plan, which basically goes like this: Clear streets after a snowfall; widen streets in order of priority for main thoroughfares, emergency access, and public buildings like schools and hospitals; begin snow removal in congested areas, primarily downtown (that's what we're working on right now).
Basically, as we continue our removal operations (tonight they're doing Bond, Chapel, Duckworth, Bannerman, and Colonial Streets), if there is another snowfall or icy conditions, they will break to lay down salt and/or clear. If you live downtown, you can find out if your street has removal operations here. You can also call 576-SNOW everyday after 3pm. Remember to move your car that night, otherwise it will be towed!
Click here to learn more about the City's snow clearing and removal operations.
Unfortunately there is so much snow it's basically impossible for the sidewalk plows to do their job in most places. This means that we probably won't see a majority cleared for weeks except when larger removal operations can clear them along with the streets.
With regards to school zones, the city has made a lot of progress clearing "drop off zones" and the areas in the immediately vicinity of schools. But achieving our desired 1.6km radius for sidewalks is weeks away. We're encouraging parents and students to consider alternate modes of transporation like taking the bus or car-pooling.
I understand that this is both frustrating and dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. I walk almost everywhere I go, so I am intimately aware of the challenges of walking in the winter. For that reason, I will be encouraging a review of our snow clearing system and putting higher priority on sidewalks.
Power / Electricity Concerns
The City is doing its part to both conserve electricity and provide a respite for citizens left in the dark. For example, our three water treatment plants are running on generators ("off the grid") which is a major reduction of stress on our system.
There is a "warming centre" set up at City Hall with coffee, food, and wireless internet access. This is the only location the City is offering at this time because it is has guaranteed power thanks to backup generators. Because there are still rolling blackouts, other locations have a risk of also "going dark," which would leave people in the cold again. City Hall will continue to provide this service until rolling blackouts have ended.
Councillor Danny Breen noted this evening that in the future there will be more options for warming centres: both the Convention Centre expansion and the new Wedgwood Park Rec Centre will have backup generators once built.
We will receive another update tomorrow regarding fire safety in our city. In the meantime, if you live near a fire hydrant that is covered in snow and have a snowblower, it would be hugely appreciated and helpful to your neighbourhood if you could clear even some of the snow around it.
The City will make a statement tomorrow about efforts to ensure the safety of our citizens given the large amounts of snow. I'll be sure to share it with you.
This is certainly a challenging time for everyone in this province, and so many people are doing their part to keep us safe and warm (and online!). I'd like to thank all of those who are bearing the brunt of the effort, and to especially thank those of you who are making efforts - both great and small - to help those in our community throughout this situation. We're in this together, and every little bit helps!