Thunder Bay Snow Clearing Budget Can Offer Savings

clearing winter's weather
City of Thunder Bay snow clearing is underway.
City of Thunder Bay snow clearing

THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Thunder Bay City Administration and City Council can sometimes seem like Rodney Dangerfield. “No respect, no respect at all”.

Taxpayers complaining about tax hikes, are seeking, in many cases all the same service levels they have currently received. Often the complaint is that Council should trim the staff and cut back the “fat” inside City Administration.

Snow clearing over the past several years has been a huge issue for the City of Thunder Bay. Last year, major snowfalls caused some significant budget overruns in the snow clearing budget.

City officials are now musing seeking residents to clear their own sidewalks of snow. That has some up in arms.

Honestly put there is a real contrast here – There are some who look right at City Hall and Administration for cuts. Those are great for rhetorical arguments.

Figuring that “trimming the fat at the top” will solve problems is short-sighted at best. There are areas that Council should be looking at. A quick solution would be looking at the return on investment on the numerous committees and examining their efforts on a results based manner. I digress.

Snow clearing throughout the winter - Be more health aware!
Snow clearing throughout the winter – Be more health aware!

When it comes to snow clearing. What the City should be doing is setting in place a plan that for amounts of snow under ten centimetres, that homeowners are responsible for snow clearing their own sidewalks.

Actually for small amounts of snow, not having the sidewalk plough go by leaving a bank of snow in the middle of driveways will likely assist homeowners. Many cities across Canada have similar programs in place. They work and they focus the snow clearing efforts on key core areas of the community.

In Thunder Bay, downtown sidewalks and snow banks are an issue for a number of reasons. First they can make it hard for customers to get to businesses. Second they are quickly filled with dangerous broken glass, syringes which by spring leave the downtown sidewalks a very unattractive mess.

For a city with a “Diamond” standard, and that relies on tourism and hopes through future planning to boost tourism visits to our community, we need to get seriously focused on making our core areas more inviting and attractive.

Online there are social media groups where people complain repeatedly about sidewalk ploughs in their neighbourhoods when there is little to no snow. Making sure that the only time sidewalk ploughs are on residential sidewalks will cut those issues.

Secondly, this year the city has started a program of improved communications to the public. That effort needs to be expanded greatly. When people know what is happening, they are less likely to complain.

Moving forward, sharing the efforts to save money need to be a part of the process of controlled spending.

Sidewalk clearing can help do that.

James Murray

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