March 20 was the first official day of spring but residents in Ottawa know that this is far from reality! We have had unprecedented winter conditions and it is not quite over although some of the old snow is starting to shrink down. We all hope that the melt will be slow and steady, so we do not have flooding situations. It is clear that climate change is having an effect on winter weather, therefore, we need to update our city winter maintenance standards to respond extreme winter conditions that leaves our sidewalks and streets in hazardous shape. This is why I have proposed a motion that will be debated at the City of Ottawa Transportation Committee on Wednesday, April 3 at 9:30 am.
Here it is:
Councillor Kavanagh has provided the following motion for Transportation Committee’s consideration:
WHEREAS climate change has played havoc with our winter weather system, maximizing the City’s resources for winter maintenance; and
WHEREAS the City of Ottawa continues to deal with freeze/thaw cycles that make walking and driving difficult on side streets, particularly for seniors; and
WHEREAS the winter of 2018/19 has been severe in terms of heavy snow, freezing rain and rain often within days of each other; and
WHEREAS City of Ottawa crews are working hard and to capacity to meet the current standards set out for the City’s roads and sidewalks; and
WHEREAS ice ruts are now a common situation on city side streets causing damage to vehicles and making walking treacherous; and
WHEREAS city crews are not able to address this overwhelming situation; and
WHEREAS the City will soon be moving towards an LRT transit system that will require residents to have reliable walking routes to transit stations, bus stops and creating walkable neighbourhoods that do not require using a vehicle; and
WHEREAS the new Official Plan encourages walking, cycling and using transit all year round; and
WHEREAS the Ottawa Pedestrian Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and research concerning gender as a factor in transportation strategies, all provide valuable insight into potential considerations for delivering core services to residents and visitors; and
WHEREAS as the Special Liaison on Women and Gender Equity I will be working with city staff to conduct consultations this year with women concerning the gender lens as it relates to City services, including winter operations; and
WHEREAS the harmonization of service standards in 2003, culminating in the Maintenance Quality Standards for Roadways and Sidewalks/Pathways, were established in the absence of formal policies and guidelines on fundamental societal issues, such as accessibility;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Transportation Committee direct staff to review its winter maintenance standards, including the methodology for classification and prioritization, to improve the condition of residential roads, sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities for its residents during the winter months and have staff bring forward a report for consideration as part of the 2022 budget.