Changes coming to snow clearing in Mississauga


We know, we know—it's still summer and you're not (nor should you be) thinking about winter, but winter is, inevitably, coming (even if Game of Thrones is no more). 

Because winter is part and parcel of Canadian life, residents should note that snow clearing procedures in Mississauga are evolving, but not quite as much as residents might have liked due to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Last month, city council approved a new eight-year winter maintenance contract for Mississauga that will begin in the fall of 2021 and expire in 2029. 

The upcoming 2020/21 winter season will be the final year of the current seven-year contract.

In a news release, the city said the new winter maintenance contract will ensure that snow clearing operations are "more efficient" throughout the city, adding that the contract includes upgrades to snow clearing equipment and salt management practices. 

As far as costs go, a recent corporate report says that the new contract will cost the city approximately $141 million over eight years or $17.7 million a year—almost $3 million more than the city's current $14.8 million a year contract. 

The report said that while the city had the option to increase winter service on residential sidewalks and windrows (the piles of snow left at the bottom of a driveway after the plow clears the road), staff recommended that council hold off due to COVID-19 and the associated deficit that the city is facing as a result of the lockdown. 

Ultimately, council did not approve additional levels of service for driveway windrows and residential sidewalks, deferring enhancements to at least 2023 to minimize the budget impact in 2021 and 2022.

"This new contract strikes the right balance between keeping up with the growing demands for snow clearing in our city while keeping our COVID-19 financial pressures top of mind," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. 

"Thankfully, our staff have been able to identify efficiencies without impacting service levels. We will continue to find savings and apply a 'need' not 'want' lens when negotiating City service contracts moving forward."

Beginning in the 2021/22 winter season, residents can expect the same level of service they've grown accustomed to plus new snow clearing equipment that allows for plowing and salting at the same time. 

The city also says that snow clearing operations can be amended to accommodate the construction of the Hurontario LRT and the formation of additional Active Transportation initiatives for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as bike lanes.

"It is vital that the city continues to take progressive steps to effectively deliver snow clearing services in Mississauga," said Mickey Frost, Director, Works Operations and Maintenance, in a statement. 

"While keeping financial pressures in mind, the city has managed to redirect resources to find operational efficiencies without impacting service delivery. We have also made it a priority to support effective salt management practices, as more effective plowing should require less salt usage, especially in areas monitored by local conservation authorities. Using less salt will therefore not only lead to material savings but have a less negative impact to our environment."

Currently, Mississauga clears 5,600 lane kilometres of roads and on-street bike lanes; 1,600 linear kilometres of priority sidewalks; 3,400 bus stops; 95 kilometres of roadside multi-use trails; and over 1,000 pedestrian crossings.

Cover photo courtesy of @idris.yyz

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