The City of Fernie will soon be launching a pilot project aimed at revamping the City’s snow and ice removal policies.
The project is set to be active between February 18th to April 15th with plans to create new procedures by next winter.
The City said that its current system is outdated and does not meet the needs of the community.
“We’ve inherited what is largely a complaint-based snow and ice removal policy. The prioritized routes are sort of ad-hoc as the operators move through the community, and it’s not serving the needs of Fernie,” said mayor Ange Qualizza. “We’re going to move through a service change and we’re going to keep engaging the community.”
Qualizza added that the City’s snow removal policy has not been updated for some time, and it’s causing headaches for residents and city staff.
“Right now, the policy and procedures we’re working off of are over 20 years old and they contradict one another and they don’t give clear direction to staff. Then what happens is that the community doesn’t know what to expect,” said Qualizza. “It’s a really old document that doesn’t provide clear direction. What happens is we set everyone up to fail, our staff looks like they’re underperforming, the business community doesn’t get what they need, and the pedestrian community aren’t getting what they need either. The whole system needs to be reviewed and improved.”
According to Qualizza, the current procedures result in some areas of Fernie being neglected for days before a plow clears out snow during heavy snowfall.
“In January, we had a lot of heavy snow events, so we had a lot of what we call day one plows. Based on what the current system, that means you keep resetting on day one and you never get to day 2. So if your business community was within a day 2 area, it wasn’t getting serviced in a timely matter. We had, I think, four days of day ones in January,” explained Qualizza.
Throughout the project, the City will try to find an efficient method of snow and ice removal that works for Fernie’s businesses and residents.
“In the beginning, it’s probably going to look a lot different, and we’ve got four different ways of public engagement and we’re going to be counting on the community to keep participating in the conversation so we can really get it right,” Qualizza said to MyEastKootenayNow.com. “I’m not at all suggesting we’ll get it right tomorrow, but by starting to change the way we move snow and engaging the community while we do it, hopefully by 2021 we have a better sense of where we’re going and what we need.”
Qualizza encourages Fernie residents to provide feedback through the project, which can be provided via engagement events, open houses, surveys and a dedicated email address: [email protected].