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Langley Township council mulls plan for clearing snow off major sidewalks

Routes near bus stops, hills would be targets if new policy is adopted
Snow plow clearing roads in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township is considering creating new teams targeting snow and ice on sidewalks and bus stops, but balked at a cost of up to $1.7 million a year.

A staff report put forward a plan for seven teams to tackle major snow events and clear sidewalks in key areas.

Right now, the Township “does not have the resources to remove snow and ice from all sidewalks fronting Township properties nor those adjacent to residential properties,” the report notes.

Just a handful of sidewalk areas are cleared after a heavy snowfall, including a few near parks and rec centres, pump stations, and, once road conditions have stabilized, bus stops and a few select sidewalks along major routes.

The new plan presented Monday, Jan. 16, at council’s request, would create seven teams, one for each major Township neighbourhood: Aldergrove, Brookswood/Fernridge, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove, Willoughby, and Willowbrook.

The crews would use small motorized vehicles equipped with plows and salt spreaders to tackle the sidewalks, while a second crew member attacked areas like bus stops, which can’t be cleared with machinery.

The new crews would tackle pedestrian routes leading to bus stops, areas around schools, sloped areas that don’t have private property frontage, and multi-use paths.

Setting up the new crews would require $2.1 million in one-time costs to buy the equipment, plus an ongoing $1.7 million operating cost. When now clearing snow, the staff would be busy the rest of the year working on other tasks such as mowing lawns and clearing sidewalks, and the equipment would be repurposed for other uses as well.

The cost and some specifics of the plan raised issues for councillors, and they decided to refer it back to staff for some changes.

“The policy needs a bit more work before we can actually adopt it,” said Councillor Barb Martens, who suggested the referral.

She thanked Township staff for coming up with a plan so quickly.

“Considering how the weather has been the last number of weeks, it’s an issue of some importance,” she said.

However, Martens wanted a little more clarity on some aspects of the new plan.

She noted that there are clear policies for which roads get cleared first.

“But we don’t have a priority place on the sidewalks the Township is responsible for,” Martens said. “What I’m suggesting is it should be priority one.”

The question of the overall cost was raised, as well as whether Township staff or contractors would be used.

“I am strongly opposed to even thinking about contracting this out,” said Coun. Tim Baillie.

Clearing snow from most sidewalks is the responsibility of the business or residential property owner whose frontage includes the sidewalk.

The Township can fine owners for not clearing snow, but does not do so frequently.

READ ALSO: So far, no tickets for failing to clear snowed-under sidewalks in Langley Township

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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