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City councillor left out in the cold about uncleared plow piles

A snow plow operator clears a street in Moncton, New Brunswick Saturday, January 2, 2010. Environment Canada has issued a number of weather warnings for much of Atlantic Canada with heavy snowfall and wind gusts up to 100km/h.

VIKTOR PIVOVAROV/VIKTOR PIVOVAROV/The Canadian Press

One city councillor dug deep with his own snow blower Saturday after the city's snow-clearing crews left his neighbours stranded behind 1 1/2-metre piles of snow.

Mike Del Grande, councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt, was demanding to know why crews, contrary to city policy, weren't clearing the piles, known as windrows, left at the foot of his constituents' driveways. City policy states the plows should clear an opening in the windrow large enough for a car to cross after a street has been cleared. In some cases, that obviously didn't happen, Mr. Del Grande said, which left a hefty shovelling job for residents in some areas.

Windrow clearing for suburban residents was one of the city services saved after a long debate over the 2011 city budget. Mr. Del Grande, who was until recently Mayor Rob Ford's budget chief, said there's plenty of money in the budget for snow clearing, it's just a question of how the operation is being managed.

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On Saturday morning, Mr. Del Grande was heading out to shovel when he was confronted with a metre and a half of snow blocking every driveway on the block. He was soon hearing about it.

"My neighbours come pounding on my door when things don't go right, especially with the city snowplow," he said.

Mr. Del Grande got on the phone to complain, but couldn't get a straight answer from the people doing the work. He was told that windrows hadn't been cleared in the area for seven years, which is false, Mr. Del Grande said.

With no remedy in sight, Mr. Del Grande got out his own snow blower and with the help of a neighbour cleared the windrows for half a dozen homes in his area.

"Yeah, it was full service all right," he said. "Should I have to do that? No. I did it as a neighbour, not as a councillor."

Mr. Del Grande said the budget has enough money to accommodate the level of service required.

But the level of service is something of a moving target throughout the city, he said. Windrow clearing is only guaranteed in suburban areas, not downtown where streets are narrower and space restricted by parked vehicles.

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He hopes to get some answers this week about how the snow-clearing policy is being applied.

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About the Author
Demographics Reporter

Joe Friesen writes about immigration, population, culture and politics. He was previously the Globe's Prairie bureau chief. More

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