Amid a chorus of complaints over the city’s snow clearing, Mayor Rebecca Alty told Yellowknifer that this year’s 76 cm of snowfall so far is four times the 15 cm that had accumulated by the same point last year.
She said that’s the major reason why the municipality has been struggling to maintain the streets.
She attributed the heavier snowfall and milder temperatures to climate change.
“One of the other challenges is that it was warmer on Sunday. If it stays cold, even if we got that much snow, it compacts,” said Alty. “But once it gets warm it became too soft and muddy conditions.”
The mayor said the city has a daytime plow operating to smooth the snow and will undertake the first snow removal of the year along Franklin Avenue next Monday.
“Because the snow instead of going compact, it starts to go into the parking lanes,” Alty said. “That’s why the snow removal starts on Monday.”
The city recommends residents clean the snow in front of their property and shovel their driveways to help reduce the amount of the snow on the road and not dump the snow on the road itself.
Some residents say the thick snow definitely makes it more challenging for people who have mobility issues — such as those who rely on wheelchairs or walkers — and for parents pushing strollers.
However, others say the situation is not much different from the past.
“I can’t say that I find it any worse than past years at the start of the season.” said resident Robert Andrew, “I don’t perceive there to be a delay. But if there is one, I would assume it’s due to the city trying to manage its snow-removal budget for the whole season. Costs are up for everything, including fuel, so they need to manage that budget carefully. There are much bigger problems to be focused on and dealt with in Yellowknife, much of which is far more important to our health and well-being as citizens.”
The municipal budget for snow removal is $1.85 million. Increasing that budget could trigger tax increases or reduce services in other areas.
Alty said if citizens are looking for additional snow clearing, residents can send an email to the city council or come to the public meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 pm.