It’s nothing anyone necessarily wants to think about with grass still visible in Saskatoon, but winter is on its way.
On Thursday, the City of Saskatoon held a news conference to remind residents of the various programs in place to handle snow clearing and street sanding.
Director of Public Works Pat Hyde said that, as in years past, city crews would clear major streets within 72 hours of a snowfall. In those cases, work would first start on the biggest roads like Circle Drive, 8th Street and Idylwyld Drive, working its way down from there to lower volume streets.
Even with well-established plans in place, Hyde said each snowfall is different, so they have contingencies for overtime and bringing in outside contractors as needed.
“You could have a 20-centimetre snowfall that’s a light, puffy cotton type of snowfall. For something like that, it’s easier for us to clear that than it is for say, an eight centimetre snowfall where it’s mixed with heavy moisture, maybe a rainfall or something like that in there — then of course wind drifts in and it becomes like cement,” he said.
Hyde said the city would be expanding a program that saw one sanding truck outfitted with a spray system to apply a magnesium chloride brine to the sand and salt mix used on city roads. The chemical spray is designed to make the mix stick to the road surface better and cause the salt to melt snow at lower temperatures. Crediting the program with improving conditions on Circle Drive last winter, Hyde said they’d be putting the system onto three more trucks, with an estimated cost in the area of about $8000 per machine.
Along with the extra sprayers, Hyde said they’d also be moving to add GPS tracking to their equipment so that they can generate more data to streamline operations. Hyde said they were anticipating a good amount of overall savings with the improvements.
“The sanding program, it’s a bit of a catch-22, in the sense that whatever we put down on the streets during the winter, we have to pick up in the spring during the sweep blitz. So the more efficient, the more effective we can be during the winter time … come the spring when we’re doing the sweep, we’re not picking up as much sand and debris,” he said.
Finally, Hyde reminded residents that city workers aren’t the only ones with responsibilities come winter time. Noting that the city has a bylaw requiring snow to be cleared from residential sidewalks within 48 hours of a snowfall, Hyde encouraged people to help out neighbours who might have a hard time clearing their own snow.
A full summary of the city’s snow and ice plan can be found on the City of Saskatoon website.