Keeping the streets cleared every winter in Fort McMurray is a large job, but the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) states that they have all the resources needed to keep streets clear of snow on time and on budget.
In the RMWB they focus on two key areas for snow removal, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary routes, and then the Winter Maintenance Zones (WMZ).
Primary routes are the heavily used roads like Franklin Avenue, Secondary includes school zones, urban transit routes and main access to any neighbourhoods such as Paquette Drive.
Tertiary routes have geometric or alignment features that require a service to improve road user safety, such as roads like Wolverine Drive.
The second focus is WMZs, which are all the residential neighbourhoods that have been divided into five WMZs for each day of the work week.
Those zones are broken up into four subzones that get done on alternating weeks that require residents to remove their vehicles from the street while their zone is active.
RMWB Public Works Director Keith Smith explained that signs are posted on those streets explaining when winter maintenance occurs.
Smith explained that the RMWB has more than enough manpower and equipment to ensure that all roads get cleared of snow within the projected time. “Our number one issue by far, is on-street parking.”
“Picture it, if we have 15 vehicles parked and only 4 tow trucks available, by the time we got those vehicles out, it could be 10 or 11 o’clock and blades haven’t even touched the ground yet.”
He stated that if they were to have 15 zones to do as an example and they only got done 9 due to vehicles not being moved, when they come back, they’ll start at number 10.
Smith really wanted to reiterate that the number one challenge that they’ve faced this season is vehicles being parked on the street. “It’s been an even bigger issue this year with more residents working from home due to the pandemic.”
“If we spend half our time towing, we cannot provide the service as expected,” Smith stated. “It doesn’t just fluster our residents, it flusters our team as well because we want to do the job that’s expected.”
Resident’s can find which WMZ they are here.