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City hires former boss to review snow removal operations

A line of graders work on clearing snow along Fifth Avenue Friday morning. If driving, or walking, today, be very careful on the roads. There is lots of snow and conditions aren't the best. Bill Phillips photo
A line of graders work on clearing snow along Fifth Avenue earlier this year.

City council has tagged a former senior manager to lend a critical eye to the city’s snow removal efforts.

Frank Blues is now retired but worked for 30 years with the city, much of that time spent as a senior manager responsible for snow removal operations and budgeting.

Blues’ job is to investigate and review the following:

1. Winter operations planning;

2. Delivery of winter services (Service Levels and a review of the Snow and Ice Control Council Procedure);

3. Winter operations reporting;

4. Municipal snow policies across Canada;

5. Review technology that municipalities use to track their operations; and,

6. Review municipal winter organizational structures.

His recommendations will be presented at the May 27 council meeting. Accompanying Blues’ report, Engineering and Public Works staff will present the detailed actions and timelines required to implement the recommendations.

Snow removal has come under the gun again this year. In late December 2018, Prince George experienced a heavy snowfall event with a total accumulation of 42cm, immediately followed by precipitation in the form of rain and then freezing temperatures to -25C, according to a city report.

The timeframe for completion of clearing of all 700km roads and 200km sidewalks (Priority 1/2/3) was seven days. During that period (December 30, 2018 – January 5, 2019), 487 service requests were received, according to the report.

This snowfall triggered a need for an “after action review” in Public Works. An after action review is a process that public works conducts on the action or response taken when major events occur within the works of the department. This process can involve both staff from different divisions and external stakeholders.