Help for snowy roads

The City of Kelowna is coming to the aid of beleaguered residents who find themselves prisoners in their own homes during major snowfall events

City public works manager Darryl Astofooroff outlined a series of potential changes to the way the city responds to people living on what are termed Priority 3 roads.

The city clears roads on a priority basis. Priority 1 includes all main arterial roads, Priority 2 includes secondary roads, roads with a grade greater than 10 per cent, bus routes and school zones, while Priority 3 includes most residential streets.

Three options were outlined for council, one which staff recommended and council seemed on board with.

"Option 3 is to increase the annual snow removal budget by $400,000 to enhance service levels, hire more contractors to improve response time into residential Priority 3 streets and add additional resources," said Astofooroff.

"This would also allow us to add additional snow routes and would help in rebuilding snow removal reserves."

Astofooroff said proposed new snow routes would include neighbourhoods in Black Mountain, Kirschner Mountain and Academy Way.

Proposed changes resulted from a steady increase in service requests from people on local residential roads. About 70 per cent of calls following a 37 centimetre dump on Dec. 27 of last year were from those areas.

"When you have these snowfall events, although these are Priority 3 roads, people literally can't get in and out," said Coun. Brad Sieben.

"There is a safety considerations. As much as we need to make sure traffic keeps flowing, these are ones where they become shut-ins without service."

Astofooroff says the city is also looking into GPS tracking to monitor the progress of snow removal, and adding resources for specific tasks such as cul-de-sacs, higher elevation neighbourhoods and clearing multi-use corridors.

Large or continuous snowfalls over the past number of years have depleted the city's snow removal reserve fund, while storms in January and February have all but drained this year's budget.

In order to prop up both, the city placed $800,000 of 2017 surplus funds into the snow removal reserve fund.

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