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This image was provided with the Council package showing how someone left snow in the middle of their road.
REPORTING · 30th November 2011
Walter McFarlane
City Council discussed their snow clearing policy on October 11th at their Committee of the Whole Meeting. Here, they discussed altering a bylaw which would allow residents to put the snow on the side of the road. This discussion would serve as a primer to Council’s meeting on November 21st where snow removal was discussed further.

Council was also given a list of reasons why putting snow on the curb side was a bad idea by their administration. The list is attached below or you can read it here.

In addition, a former Councillor, Graham Anderson, wished to talk about this with the Council. He was called upon for his surprise presentation near the beginning of the meeting.

“How this got started was my son piled a whole bunch of snow in front of my house and a big blob which drew the attention of the building inspector and quite rightly, he gave me a warning ticket. The ticket has nothing to do with it, I’m in agreement on it,” said Anderson.

He explained he then received a letter from Peter Brock, the building inspector asking him not to put any snow on the road. There were two follow-up letters. At this point, he contacted the Council members.

Anderson handed out minutes from a regular meeting of Council in 2001. At the meeting, there was a unanimously passed motion which would amend a bylaw regarding public spaces. He explained this bylaw did not permit homeowners to anything into the road with the exception of ice and snow.

He added his home was built in such a manner, it would not facilitate the on site storage of snow. He asked Council where people are supposed to put the snow in the case there is a heavy snowfall and the District Machines have blown all the snow from the road onto the front lawn. Anderson pointed out some properties in town do not have the room to keep piling up snow.

Councillor Corrine Scott inquired about the Bylaw, as a part was cut off by the photocopier. Anderson explained it says the sole discretion will go to the director of Engineering or his delegates.

Tim Gleig, District Engineer said he was not at the final adoption but he was at the other reading. He explained the Boulevard was not the travel portion of the road, but the boulevard. The boulevard is a section of land off the curb. He pointed out it is administration’s discretion, not Councils. The discretion is for problems being created, such as when a storm sewer would be blocked or visibility would be reduced.

The only time this came up was when a store owner in Service Centre pushed snow into the boulevard creating a visibility problem.

Gleig also explained there is an MTI format of ticketing, which leaves the person being ticketed to prove their innocence. In the case of snow clearing, it refers to snow which obstructs traffic. He asked: “At what point does it impede or obstruct traffic when you put snow in the road way.”

He added Council was looking at a motion later in the evening to look at this, but this motion does not look at how deep the snow will be, how high it can be and other aspects. It would be a difficult one to enforce as there are properties which cannot hold a lot of snow.

“I don’t think we’re unreasonable, this was a motion among many considered for cutting costs with the closure of Eurocan. I will state there are some real abuses here, and in the middle of that big snowstorm where we got a metre of snow in 24 hours, driving down albatross, there was a quad with a blade parked in his garage just pushing all the snow right across into the curb on the other side and compacting it. Now I don’t think that was the intent. If you have the equipment, you can do something different with it,” said Gleig.

He said there are other alternative, such as hiring kids to clean the snow, he pointed to an example where the snow was pushed against the curb, but was also ten feet out from the curb. He reminded Council the bylaw was not to put snow into the road but into the boulevard which is between the curb and the property line.

“What you can’t ignore is the fact that snow put in the road way; cars get stuck in it. Even if it is on curb side, it affects drainage. We don’t return after snow clearing and you’ve probably seen it yourself and we’ve got lots of pictures of people who, after the storm is over, push their drive way after we’ve been there and piled it on the road or on the curb. It now becomes cold, it becomes frozen in place there and Grater operators have no hope of seeing that in the middle of a snow storm,” said Gleig. “There are a number of operational reasons why we’re not in favour of that.”

He reminded of one incident where a home owner piled all the snow in the gutter. When the rain came, all the water went down into a basement, Council paid for the repairs.

Anderson said they had to come to a solution over what blocks traffic. He suggested residents in Kitimat could not hire someone with a loader to move the snow which was put there by the District of Kitimat and they may no longer be in a position to get snow up and onto the bank.

He said not being to put snow on the road was preposterous. He there was no such case of having graders stuck in snow banks pushed out from a driveway when he was on Council. During this time, people were still putting snow on the roads. A little extra snow and ice will not stop the graders.

Later in the meeting, Councillor Corrine Scott made a motion for the Administration to prepare an amendment to the bylaw regarding the snow removal. Councillor Mario Feldhoff pointed out this was a tabled motion on the floor. The motion was originally to allow people who clean their driveways to leave the snow on the curb. Scott made a motion to amend this motion with the distance from the curb, within in the first four feet of the curb space.

Councillor Bob Corless was opposed: “Already, we’ve turned everybody into criminals, my neighbours, very nice people, very smart people, very fxxxxd up people. Still in snow things, scooping their snow across the street and blocked the drains. Water runs down, farther down the street. Probably someone gets water in their thing. People are already doing it. My question would be, how many people get tickets every year. I don’t think for all the infractions there are, I don’t believe many people actually receive a ticket. I just think we’re blowing smoke here, just talking about wasting time,” said Corless. “It doesn’t matter what you put in the bylaws, they will break it and it’s not that they are doing it on purpose, it’s just more convenient for them. We all get sick of snow.”

Scott changed her amendment. Not only must the snow be put in the curb space, it also had to be placed in front of the dwelling. She also added the snow cannot disrupt traffic or the storm drain. The person placing the snow over the drain is responsible for any damage caused by the water.

Councillor Randy Halyk stated he was not certain about this amendment, as it would take 8 feet out of the roadway. He wanted to know how wide the streets were as he was concerned about them being narrow. He suggested the best way to solve this would be to have a snow blower blow the snow into a truck and cart it away so they do not have the issue.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked for clarification on the 2001 bylaw and the requests for staff to be more aggressive on this issue in response to the Eurocan closure. He also asked for information on the information sheet in the package. According to it, 15 warnings and two tickets were handed out. 27 people received letters in regard to the snow clearing.

Halyk asked if 4 feet were allowed on either side of the street, would it be enough room for two vehicles to get by. Gleig replied in some cases, such as when there are cars parked on the side of the road, where this would create a challenge for people to get through. He thought a foot and a half would be adequate, although it would still clog the gutter. He said this change would mean a lot more people doing putting their snow in the gutter and right now, there are not that many people doing it.

Councillor Rob Goffinet agreed that four feet was too wide. He suggested people with a machine which could scoop snow across the street should have a blower put on it instead so they could shoot it up to the top of the pile. He also suggested the district help people in the community who cannot lift the snow three metres onto the pile. Goffinet said 99% of the people are law abiding and would not put it out in the street. The people who are putting it in the middle of the street should be issued a ticket.

Scott said the snow blowers blow the snow into people’s yards and some people cannot remove the snow from the parking. She said there should be no problem with parking since snow is supposed to be off the street for snow removal. She said she had a problem with residents could hire snow removal equipment but people with low income or disabilities cannot afford to hire someone to clean their driveway. They are shovelling by hand and are the ones who have the problems.

“I fully endorse the bylaw people of going out and giving tickets to people who blatantly take a quad with a blade and push the snow from the property into the middle of the road. I agree they should be fined for that,” said Scott.

The amendment was carried.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff was torn. He said the bylaw would put the power in the hands of their staff. He thought they were good about how they use the power but he was concerned about the language punishing the elderly and people with low incomes.

Corless did not think they needed to change anything. He watches his own street. The most problem came from when the snow clearing made a windrow and his neighbours pushed the snow into the windrow. Then vehicles had a hard time navigating the street. The grader also had problems going uphill on the street when there was snow against the curb.

Halyk wanted to make an amendment to the motion, to change the response time back from five inches to three inches. However, Feldhoff wanted to see this as a new motion. It was accepted as a notice of Motion.

Goffinet clarified they did not have to move this motion as it was coming back as a bylaw and they were going to do it anyway. He said he did not fault the bylaw enforcement officer as Council told them to be strict as a cost saving measure.

Corless pointed out 4’ was a big deal. People could end up blocking their neighbour’s driveway. Wordsmithing was needed for the bylaw.

Goffinet pointed out the snow had to be in front of their properties, not anyone else’s. It could not be across the street or down in front of a neighbours house. People who could not adhere to the rules could find someone to shoot it up onto the pile. He said most people could push a scoop up onto the front lawn. Mayor Joanne Monaghan joked about her driveway being the exception to the rule.

Halyk said the snowplough could eliminate the 4’. However, there could come a time when the plough could not move it and then the community will have tunnel issues. He did not think this was the solution to the problem.

Scott said it was Council’s role to set the guidelines for staff. If 4’ is too wide, make it 2’ so long as they are granting the ability to put it on the side of their property. She said the bylaw does not allow snow on the road, but Council needs to allow for it. The motion was for the people who shovel snow.

The amended motion was called and carried. Now it is up to administration to bring back a by-law for Council to approve.
my snow and my neighbours snow
Comment by yllana on 4th December 2011
I too live in Cable Car.
i notice that grader come out does as much as as he can...then as our roads become narrower then they send the snow blower.
but before that i snow blow my driveway and place the snow in my larger lot(but not as big as some) then i get my 2 neighbours snow also in my yard! 1 neighbour gets a guy with his big machine and pushes(then latter raises and dumps on top of the pile) it across the the street right in my my ditch & yard. then the other neighbour has a blade on his vehicle and does the classic push right across the street and into my ditch & yard and what he can't get in the yard stays on the road.now why don't they use their own yards? what gets me...is one of my neighbour tried to tell me i can't push my snow into his ditch cause the district says so(well no worries my snow is in my yard) yet he does it to me.

then the snow blower comes along and i watched him ,all the snow on my side of the road gets blown into my yard AND then i get another aprox. 25 % of the both neighbours snow also blown into my yard/septic field.

so i say if a the snow blower is going to blow the snow into our yards why can't we put some of our own snow out in front of our own yards...
Linda
Comment by Keven Fifi on 2nd December 2011
Unlike you who lives in cable car with the large lots I live on Gyrfalcon and my yard is small enough and gets very high when the city throws the snow from the street onto it. We dont have a snowblower or atv to push the snow out we do it like we always have. With a shovel. I really cant believe that we are talking about this issue. It almost seems like there is a group of people that are making issues out of things that have been here. Kitimat has always had the BEST snow clearing. I applaud our District employees on the GREAT job they do. I dont own a truck to plow though snow drifts just a car that gets me to my Job and back. KUDOS to the people at the District again,Keep up the good work. And I will continue to shovel other things as long as people give them to me to shovel.
nuff said
Keven
Comment by Linda Halyk on 2nd December 2011
What do you think big cities do, they truck it because there is no room on the streets, for it to sit. Other small towns do the same thing truck it to a site.

I am sure there must a city owned vacant lot somewhere to pile it. We are only talking about if it gets to much for the yards and the side of the road, not every single flake. There are some pretty narrow streets in town with very little for front yards, maybe only those. Something needs to be done to help if people and district staff are complaining.

Do you even know how long I've been here? I have also lived in Saskatchewan. Yes I've seen Kitimat's 9 feet of snow.

People in cable car have enough trouble removing the snow, from their driveways. I can't imagine on a small lot, where their is as much driveway as lawn. The rain we had this year was bad enough, many grey days I can't imagine being surrounded by snow and unable to see out the windows.

I know what Kitaamat means, check the title of my previous commentary.

After 50 years you would think this would have been resolved.
Just saying, there is a solution somewhere, they need to sit down and talk, not at a council meeting, at a special meeting.

In the mean time Keven keep shovelling the snow among other things.
GET RID OF THE SNOW?
Comment by Keven Fifi on 1st December 2011
Are you serious? Just what community are you living in?wait wait...you want to get rid of the snow and just where do you want to put it?
maybe we can get some Big heaters and melt it all. WOW,I know maybe we can just shove it into the ocean. Get rid of the snow. I know you guys are new to town but listen. We get snow. And we get lots of it. Just saying. Kitamaat means People of the snow. Been here 44 years and still shoveling the snow among other things.
People of the Snow
Comment by Linda Halyk on 1st December 2011
If you want to keep promoting Kitimat as a place to retire, then you best start thinking about how to get rid of the snow. Put it in trucks, pile it up, make a hill for the kids, something.

Not all Septa/Octogenarians are going to be able to shovel snow or operate a snowblower and the way our government is headed our pensions are going to get smaller and people won't be able to afford to pay someone.

We also live in cable car and are not allowed to put snow in the ditches, because of flooding, and when you have 8 feet of snow to clear from your driveway over the winter, where else can it go, we don't have boulevards or curbs. Yes we have only one lane somedays and cable car has a school bus route.

Time to quit tableing this motion. All of council needs to sit down with district employees not just the supervisors, listen, discuss and fix it.



Double standards
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 30th November 2011
I agree that sometimes people are careless and have disregard for where they pile their snow ,but I live in cable car subdivision where the District finds it OK to plow the snow to the sides of the streetsand leaves us with single lane traffic for days on end to save money. Many times i have gotten stuck at the end of my drive way because there is 3 feet of snow piled there from the plow. We at the cable car pay taxes for sewer and are all on septic systems,the very least the District coul;d do was provide us with a little better snow clearing,Maybe send a plow and a blower out so we are not stranded instead of just a plough.I dont think this is asking too much considering I pay for a service I dont receive. eg(sewer)
snow job
Comment by al on 30th November 2011
I wont put snow on the road if you dont blow it in my yard
last year the snow was level with my balcony in our 2 story house, where was it supposed to go
you dont want snow on the road, try cleaning it last week I had to shovel to get to the road, giver bullets to get to the end of it to find out I was blocked in by a giant wind row made by the grader, I dont know if our new mayor is aware of the shift times for Rio Tinto, buy alot of people need to be there for 5-6 am, with residential street snow clearing starting around 9 or 10 it makes it hard to get to work everytime it snows, people shovel snow into the roads all over BC, why is an issue in Kitimat, maybe the Terrace ski hill can donate $ 15,000 to the district for extra snow clearing, for a town that celebrated 50 years why is this an issue, we live in a snowbelt, deal with it appropriately, not corn the homeowner