Its official, spring is here! However, don’t put your shovel away just yet!
This season, Ottawa has experienced some record setting winter weather. Snow, ice, and freeze thaw cycles have wreaked havoc on our roads, pathways, and sidewalks and the impact has been felt widely across the city.
My office was flooded with calls for service for winter related issues including, road maintenance, snow bank removal, sand and salt application, blocked catch basins, narrow roads, flooding, and potholes. I take your concerns seriously and over the course of this season my office has submitted hundreds of service requests on your behalf. My team and I also worked closely with city crews to address site specific concerns and to alleviate, as much as possible, the headaches associated with winter weather.
Ottawa’s winter operations is a massive undertaking. Throughout the season our operators worked around the clock to clear nearly 2300 kilometers of sidewalks and over 6000 kilometers of roads. Since January 1, crews have also filled almost 40,000 potholes and have worked to clear the 100,000 catch basins across the city.
However, I recognize, that despite our best efforts, for many people in our community this was a challenging winter. Residential streets were hit particularly hard and ice accumulation, flooding and potholes made our streets and sidewalks difficult to navigate. The record breaking snow fall exacerbated these challenges and forced the delay of enhanced snow removal operations which included street grading and the removal of snow banks.
I think it is time to recognize that winters like the one we’ve just seen is Ottawa’s new normal. We are seeing more snow, more freeze thaw cycles, and more extreme and frigid temperatures. Our winter operations need to adapt to this new reality. I know we can do better.
The City’s Transportation Committee has asked that the City do a full review of our winter maintenance standards. I firmly believe that we need to adapt to our new reality and make sure that we are investing in a way that will make a positive difference on our roads and sidewalks. It may be that we need different equipment or a new approach to battling thaw cycles, but no matter what, I think something has to give and it’s time for us to make some changes.
This process will undoubtedly take time to complete but you can trust that even during the warm summer months ahead, I’ll be thinking about ways to improve on our winter experience!