Monday, January 10, 2022

Langley City needs to improve its snow game

200th Street sidewalk near 56th Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

In Metro Vancouver, we tend to get under a month of snow. But when it does snow, it dumps. In Langley City, we do not hire more crews to maintain our roads and sidewalks when it snows. Crews are retasked from other work to plough our roads and select sidewalks/walkways.

When it comes to our roadways, I know we have some of the best in the region when it comes to snow removal and winter maintenance. Sidewalks and bike lanes are another story.

When a sidewalk is along the perimeter of private property, the private property owner or tenant must clear snow off sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall event.

The City does not perform winter maintenance on separated bike lanes.

Previously, I lived near 204th Street and 53rd Avenue. For the most part, property owners in that neighbourhood, which includes Downtown Langley, removed snow off their sidewalks in a timely fashion.

This year, I moved to the end of 55A Avenue near Surrey. As someone who does a lot of walking, I can tell you that sidewalk snow removal is hit or miss in this part of town.

The significant issues are along 200th Street and 56th Avenue. Many commercial property owners and their tenants do not remove the snow on sidewalks along their properties. The City maintained sidewalks are “proirty two” in the area.

As someone who is able-bodied and has snow gear, I was able to trudge through the snow for the first day or two after a snowfall. But as the temperature hoovers around zero in Langley City, these sidewalks quickly turn icy, creating slipping hazards. I cannot count the number of times I’ve almost fallen onto my butt these past few weeks when using some of these unmaintained sidewalks.

As a City, we want to build a community with universal access. The means that everyone, including people with limited mobility, who use scooters or use other mobility devices, should be able to use sidewalks safely. 200th Street and 56th Avenue today are not universally accessible when it snows.

Langley City’s new Official Community Plan speaks to prioritizing walking and mobility aids; bicycling and rolling; and public transit.

So, what should we do?

As I noted, Langley City crews are already super busy when it snows, so we cannot ask them to do more.

The first step is to create an ongoing education campaign to inform commercial and industrial property owners that City bylaws require that they remove snow off sidewalks along their properties.

City council may also need to consider increasing the snow removal budget and purchasing equipment, allowing City crews to get to “priority two” sidewalks faster and clear separated bike lanes.

With climate change, our winters are becoming more intense. Heavy snowfall will be more frequent over the coming years.

1 comment:

david said...

Nathan, agree with you. A big challenge is at bus stops where the snow
has been plowed up against the curb making it difficult for passengers getting on/off buses and to/from the bus stops itself. Another challenge
is at street corners.
Can't remember when/where I read it, but some cities have budgeted for city crews and equipment to clear sidewalks.