Winter Parking Restrictions Help Snowplows, Emergency Vehicles

By Wilson Lo, Barrhaven East Councillor

New one-side winter street parking restrictions are now in effect on 15 streets across the ward, in addition to several streets with existing restrictions.

Streets new for the 2023-2024 winter are Cicely, Collington (partial), Coralroot, Deercroft, Gentian, Hornchurch, Montana (partial), Redcliff, Rodeo, Springbeauty, Sweetflag, Twayblade, Via Mattino, Via San Marino, Watershield.

These restrictions are effective until 31 March 2024, after which staff will re-evaluate and amend, as necessary.

The implementation of winter parking restrictions is usually at the request of snow clearing crews based on past operational challenges in the area. There are resident requests sometimes, but those require consultation with staff. In the above list, only Via San Marino originated as a resident request.

Where snowplow crews become unable to pass, their progress along the remainder of their route becomes negatively affected.

Where Para Transpo vehicles can’t pass, it affects the ability of a person requiring the service to use it, potentially missing medical appointments.

Where firetrucks and ambulances can’t pass, it can become a life-or-death situation.

Though By-Law Services make the effort to visit as many streets as possible during a parking ban, it relies on service requests from residents due to the number of streets in the city and the need to respond to other unrelated calls.

Posting the new restriction will deter most vehicles from parking on that side, reducing the need for By-Law Services to respond, but also allow them to enforce parking restrictions outside parking bans, contributing to fewer calls during those parking bans.

Crews can’t plow right up to the curb, they need leeway to account for bumps in the road, equipment shifting, and human error to minimise property damage, and to account for the size/shape of the equipment.

The accumulated snowbanks also become too heavy for a plow to push back without affecting its ability to service the rest of the route in a timely manner. Last winter, snow removal was to happen on several streets across the ward much earlier. Unfortunately, there were repeated operational delays or cancellations due to major snowfalls over successive weeks in January and February. Crews preparing for snow removal were redeployed (in two cases on short notice) for snow clearing.

Public works also tried casting snowbanks further instead of removing them, but the weight of the material thrown posed too great a risk of damage to private property. The strategy, however, was successful along major roads and streets with little frontage.

By now, you’re thinking “wow, how many more excuses are there?” It’s a fair comment, but it originates institutionally.

Approved in 2003, but not updated since, the winter maintenance quality standards prescribe the snow clearing and removal standards. We are currently updating the standards, expected to be complete for implementation over the 2024-25 and 2025-26 winters.

As background, city staff currently budget a winter’s operational budget based on data averaged over the last five years, including accumulation, temperature, length of snowfall, and snowbank accumulation, and on the current winter maintenance quality standards.

The new standards will include looking at changing the staffing of crews, the equipment used, and contracted by the city, among other things, especially as our winters become milder and wetter with more freeze-thaw cycles.

Staff will present the update to committee and Council mid-2024.