Three years ago, the winter streets of Edmonton rarely saw a full cycle of neighbourhood blading. At that time, citizens were quite vocal that the general policy of ‘freeze it where it falls until it thaws,’ was not sufficient. In response, Council introduced neighbourhood blading to improve winter driving conditions and overall snow removal.
The current blading program has some strong benefits, but also some major downfalls. On-street parking and the inconvenience it causes to both residents and snow removal crews, is one of the most regular complaints that my office receives.
I understand that to restrict residential parking to garages, driveways and parking pads is not realistic for some families, especially in dense neighbourhoods. However, I also understand that continuing to allow parking on both sides of narrow residential streets may not be the most practical approach considering our snowy winters.
We attempt to minimize windrows but in so doing we still leave 5cm of snow on the roadway that creates havoc in thaw cycles. As we move through February and the snow builds up, many Edmonton streets are beginning to look like shallow trenches, just wide enough to allow for one vehicle to drive by, never mind two lanes of traffic.
The current policy attempts to balance everyone’s needs by maintaining on-street parking access for motorists, while providing neighbourhood blading for smoother movement through residential areas. Perhaps by trying to have the best of both worlds, we are actually selling ourselves short on both ends.
How should we move forward? I have heard support for a program that would allow residential parking on one side of the street. I have also heard support to go to a rotating short-term neighbourhood ban during scheduled blading. If we could leave a windrow on one side of the street with no parking, and ensure there were openings for sidewalks and driveways, then we could actually plow to the pavement instead of blading to 5cm and hoping it does not melt. This would then leave quality parking space on the other side of the street, while also providing better driving conditions in the driving lane.
Is Edmonton ready for this? This winter has not been without its challenges and frustrations. I would like your response on these ideas so City Council can consider these conversations to decide how to make our winter-city safer and more agreeable to all.
Please feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 780.496.8146. You can also follow me on Twitter @ben_hen