Council advised on need for spot sanding, salting

March 25, 2015   ·   0 Comments

With the weather having warmed up slightly over the last few weeks, some Orangeville residents have been expressing concern as to why the sidewalk plows have continued to drive around salting and sanding.

Councillor Scott Wilson began the discussion Monday night by asking whether someone from the Public Works department could address the situation, and whether there was a legitimate reason behind it.

Sidewalk plowing has been a hot issue for years, even prior to Council voting in 2008 to make it the Town’s responsibility. Prior to that, residents often expressed concern over sidewalks not being taken care of by residents, making for dangerous walking conditions in the winter.

Now, as the program reaches its seventh year, the biggest concern seems to be the cost to taxpayers, the damage done to yards and sidewalks, and what residents feel is needless activity by the plows.

According to Public Works Director Doug Jones, the sanders and salters continue throughout the early spring mainly because of safety issues.

“The Operations Manager uses the weather forecasts to predict potential weather and makes the judgment call as to when it is needed on that day,” he explained. “Because of the time of year, we end up with glare ice when it is warm during the day and freezes at night. We want to ensure all sidewalks are as safe as possible.”

He added that when the Operations Manager determines it is appropriate, the plows are sent out around 4 a.m. to salt and sand.

“They will not do all sidewalks during this time of year,” he said. “The drivers use their judgment to spot sand and salt where required.”

Councillor Don Kidd, who chairs the council’s Sidewalk Clearing Committee, added that as a regular morning walker, he understands that what they are doing is important.

“There is nothing more dangerous than when the snow melts, is running onto the sidewalk and freezes, then just a little bit of snow hides that ice,” said Councillor Kidd. “The Sidewalks need to be spot-salted at this time of year.”

Mayor Jeremy Williams observed that the majority of the concerns have so far been expressed on social media, either via comments or direct messages, limiting the official capability for the Town to respond.

“We chose as a council to form the Sidewalk Clearing Committee to address concerns and examine best practices,” he said. “I’m really hoping that anyone who has comments or concerns would send them via email to the Clerk, as it’s the only real way to address it in an official capacity. It’s important that the committee hears from the public.”

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