Town removes snowbanks in Essex and Harrow Centres

Filed under: IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

With the continued extreme cold weather and accumulated snowfall gripping much of southwestern Ontario, the Town of Essex’s Public Works Department went to work on Wednesday, January 3 to remove the snowbanks from the urban centres of Essex and Harrow.

This special removal goes beyond regular plowing services, and is only undertaken when accumulated roadside snowbank volume becomes great enough to make accessibility issues for motorists and pedestrians.

Ward 4 Councillor Sherry Bondy took to social media ahead of the scheduled cleanup to ask residents whether or not they thought the snowbank removal was something the Town should be doing, noting that the removal for the two urban centres could cost upwards of $10,000 in total.

“This is one-way Council can support downtown business,” Bondy said, explaining that for many, the high snowbanks provide an accessibility issue when trying to shop and move around downtown. “[This provides] a more walkable community for seniors and people with disabilities, and even parents with strollers.”

Bondy explained the scheduling of the snowbank removal depends on certain variables, including costs and staffing issues. She noted there is no official metric at this time for when snow should be removed.

“What is the measurable for downtown cleanups? Eight inches? A foot? This is why we could have a yardstick for the removal process.”

Many of the replies on Bondy’s Facebook post on the issue echoed the sentiment that the removal was worth the cost in order to maintain workable and accessible downtown centres, with others saying that the removal should be the responsibility of the business owners in the same way that homeowners are responsible for maintaining their own sidewalks with regards to the snow.

Bondy added that going forward, Council could implement a metric for removal, especially in the face of longer and continued cold weather streaks.

“Not every town does this (snowbank removal), but I’m proud of the level of service we have in Essex,” Bondy said. “If it costs a few extra dollars to do this in the winter, and I think it’s worth it. I hope Council continues to support this in the future.”