Charlie Clark Makes Statement About Snow Response

Importance of appropriate operating budget to provide core services

Thursday November 12, 2020: In his statement, Charlie Clark thanked residents, city crews and contractors for all working together to adapt to the effects of the record snowfall last weekend.

Key points of the statement:

My priority is to get people out of their neighbourhoods and able to get to work, take kids to school, and move around.

We have just had the biggest snowstorm in 13 years. Last winter, the deepest the snow got at any time was 15 cm. On Sunday, we had 35-40cm all in one day. This is more than double the snow and we are doubling our efforts to deal with it.

There have been over 260 workers and 125 pieces of equipment out 24/7, split into 2 shifts working continuously. Due to the magnitude of this storm, the city has been hiring every contractor available.

This is a very important example of how we are using your tax dollars - making sure we have equipment, crews, and money ready to go when needed, and not compromising other services being delivered.

This is why it is important to have sufficient funds in the operating budget and why reducing the property tax increase to 1% or lower will bring risk to the city being able to adequately respond to both on-going and emergency work.

If re-elected I will also be calling for a full review of this snow response so that we ensure we learn from where we could have responded more quickly and efficiently, and ensure we are even more prepared next time

Full statement:

I want to start by thanking all of the city crews and contractors who have been working around the clock to make our streets safe and cleared of snow.

This is an extraordinary situation. We have just had the biggest snowstorm in 13 years. Last winter, the deepest the snow got at any time was 15 cm. On Sunday, we had 35-40cm all in one day. This is more than double the snow and we are doubling our efforts to deal with it.

Starting on Saturday, as soon as the snow started falling, the City has been working non-stop. There have been over 260 workers and 125 pieces of equipment out 24/7, split into 2 shifts working continuously. Due to the magnitude of this storm, the city has been hiring every contractor available.

I know you are already worn out by COVID, and that many of you have not been able to get out of your neighbourhoods. I have been driving these streets myself, I have been talking to residents, I have been talking to our staff.

My priority is to get people out of their neighbourhoods and able to get to work, take kids to school, and move around.

On Tuesday I could see the stress was growing. I was hearing from Councillors about the significant concerns arising in different Wards. Given the growing urgency of the situation and the need to ensure that everyone has the right information about the City’s response, yesterday, I called a City Council briefing with Administration. As city leaders, we need to clearly communicate with residents about what is happening and what they can expect.

I know there are questions about why some priority streets got done and others didn’t. In some situations, they were done, but because of how long the storm continued, the streets that were done first got blown in and snow plows did not return to them until yesterday. This especially affected neighbourhoods like Hampton Village, Stonebridge, Forest Grove, Willowgrove, and Kensington.

The city is also working to get to the worst streets first, the ones with the most snow and most impacted by blowing snow, especially those on the edges of the city. They are also clearing the main access roads into neighbourhoods.

Improving our snow clearing response has been a significant priority of City Council. In the last 10 years we have almost doubled the snow clearing budget. From $6.8m in 2010 to $13.4m in 2020. We have also overhauled how we clear Circle Drive and high-speed roadways to be faster and much more efficient.

This storm emphasizes how critical it is to have appropriate resources in place to address these kinds of emergencies. This is a very important example of how we are using your tax dollars - making sure we have equipment, crews, and money ready to go when needed, and not compromising other services being delivered.

This is why it is important to have sufficient funds in the operating budget and why reducing the property tax increase to 1% or lower will bring risk to the city being able to adequately respond to both on-going and emergency work.

If re-elected I will also be calling for a full review of this snow response so that we ensure we learn from where we could have responded more quickly and efficiently, and ensure we are even more prepared next time

This is the culture of continuous improvement I am committed to building at City Hall. It also emphasizes the importance of having leadership that is able to adapt and problem-solve.

I want to thank everyone who has helped their neighbours with shovelling and snowblowing, who has pushed strangers out of snowdrifts, who has given rides to frontline and health workers to make sure they get to work.

This year we have faced many situations that have shown us how we as a community need to work together and adapt to the challenges that are thrown at us.

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