Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Guest Post: Snowploughing

Posted by auroracitizen on January 10, 2011

Here’s a topic that I thought of while driving in the Town today (Sunday) in the mid-afternoon.

As we all know, there was a bit of a snow fall yesterday morning. I had to drive to Scarborough around 7:30am and it was quite bad on the 404. In fact the more south you went, the more snow there seemed to be. By the time I returned around 5:00pm, the highways were bare and wet and the side streets had been plowed. Most sidewalks were as well.

Driving around Aurora today, my street has not seen a plow yet. The sidewalks have not either. Henderson is bare where the traffic has been, but there is clear evidence that the plows have not been out.

What’s going on? Is this the new Aura? It is not normal.

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34 Responses to “Guest Post: Snowploughing”

  1. Stephanie said

    Mrs. Hughes’ letter to the editor of the Auroran this week caught my attention, because I have long been dismayed at the lack of snow clearing for sidewalks and side-streets in Aurora.

    The past week — long *before* “Snowmageddon” hit, I noticed that the sidewalk along Edward Street, from Murray and Yonge to Engelhardt and Industrial Parkway was still quite snow-covered from the previous snowfalls.

    Again, I hear that today, in the midst of a major snowfall, the sidewalks in Markham and Vaughan are already cleared down to pavement. I’m told that they were cleared this morning, before 9:00 a.m. Lord knows that most of the Aurora sidewalks aren’t likely to be clear tomorrow — or even the next day.

    When a government promotes public transit as a cure-all to traffic gridlock and pollution, you’d think that same government would make transit accessible. This has nothing to do with “new” or “old” council — it’s been like this for years. Actions speak louder than words — apparently the push for public transit use is little more than lip-service.

    • Robert the Bruce said

      Stephanie,

      Unfortunitly, the problem we have right now is that this council believes that thier job right now is to right all of the wrongs that previous councils have done. So we get stuff like renaming addresses of buildings, partnering with organizations, etc. The real work that should be undertaken is the work that they are paid to do. Snow removal, garbage collection, recreation services and the budget. But they are trying to show the public that they are not the same – problem is, they are not dealing with real issues.

      Fuimus

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      This is not quite on topic but in response to RtB

      In my opinion it’s a little early to ‘define’ this council. Six members, including the Mayor are new to elected office.
      The past council persisted in political gamesmanship and the handing out of often expensive “goodies” to potential or favourite supporters which, judging by the election results, did not go over well with the majority of voters.
      Obviously we don’t want to see the next four years spent dealing with the past but by addressing a couple of no-brainers like John West Way and the Integrity Commissioner, council has had a chance to establish a new direction. No favours – just common sense governance for all Aurorans.

      That said – I’d like to see more public education regarding the role of council in matters pertaining to the town.
      If I’m not mistaken, I believe Mayor Dawe mentioned this during the campaign.
      Some issues are a clear cut case of a majority council decision.
      I would assume snowploughing would fall in there.
      Other matters, such as development and planning which involve the Region and the Province are more complicated.
      In my view previous councils, especially the last one, misled residents by giving the impression that council always had the last word –i.e.; get a majority of council to agree to your view and it’s a done deal.
      The truth in some instances is that council has ‘A say’ and not ‘The say’.

      So far it seems the majority of council gets it.

    • October Came, Thanks were Given said

      In the time it takes to write a post here regarding snow plowing, perhaps a phone call to the Town Hall would either get action or an answer as to why the situation exists.

      On my street I watch the road guy fill the sidewalk back in after the sidewalk guy puts the snow out on the street.

      My driveway snow ends up on my lawn, what’s wrong with putting the sidewalk snow there too?

    • Anna said

      Fuimus, that is a very good point. I noticed that too.

      I must say that in our subdivision we don’t have the snow removal issues as others. The joke between the neighbors is that ‘He must have his girlfriend living here’. It is kind of sad that the snow removal is so inconsistent around Aurora.

      Anna 🙂

    • Stephanie said

      Robert The Bruce, I understand that the current council is dealing with other issues right now — right or wrong, they are still in a period of adjustment. But, like I said, this has nothing to do with the “changing of the guard” — this has been an issue for YEARS. Snow removal in Aurora has been inadequate for quite some time now.

      I don’t understand. Do other municipalities budget for more equipment and workers? Are equivalent resources used more efficiently?

      As predicted, the big snowfall ended two days ago and the sidewalks on Aurora’s side-streets are still not clear. It’s an unstable trek when you have to trudge through ice and snow to get to and from transit. I compare our sidewalks to Markham and Vaughan and we come up short. When it comes to keeping our town accessible for walkers and transit-riders, we simply don’t measure up.

      I also compare our snow removal to Orangeville, where the snowfall is MUCH heavier than ours and the town knocks down the high piles of snow at intersections so that drivers can see oncoming traffic before turning onto a street. That, too, is not something seen here. Here, you have to nose your vehicle into oncoming traffic and hope for the best.

      But back to the sidewalks. Today, I saw an elderly man and woman who had just disembarked from the Viva at the corner of Yonge and Orchard Heights Boulevard. The woman was using a walker, but the snow and ice on the sidewalk had been piled so high by the plough that she had great difficulty getting through the narrow space that had been cleared in order to get to the corner to cross the street. Again, as I type this, it is Friday. It hasn’t snowed since Wednesday afternoon. To me, that is unacceptable.

      Stephanie

    • Joe B said

      I tend to agree with RtB on this one. Although I did my happy dance on October 25th, the dance is grinding to a halt as it seems we’re going over old business and niggling at all the crap that’s gone before. Get the hell over it and get the hell on with it.
      I’m usually a great fan of Councillor Buck, but it feels like she has a great big checklist of things to reverse and I’m afraid she expects the mayor to fall into step with her or risk her displeasure. For heaven’s sake let’s hope the mayor and other councillors don’t fall into that pattern of thinking. It serves no purpose and just bogs us down.
      Can we puhleeeeeze get on with new business and quit picking at old scabs. I can’t see any old issue bleeding profusely, so pick up the garbage, plow the damn roads and sidewalks and give me lots of parks, recreation facilties, trails, grow our library,cultural centre, farmers market, concerts in the park, ribfest, new employment opportunities, welcome business for our tax-base and live up to the old slogan of being able to live, work and play here.

    • Anonymous said

      To Stephanie
      Re your final paragraph:
      That sounds like an issue that should be high on the priority list of an Accessibility Advisory committee if it resurrected and gets underway.

    • Stephanie said

      Joe B, your point is well taken, as it Robert the Bruce’s remarks. But pointing the finger at the focus of our new council does not explain the poor snow-clearing in previous years. As I noted previously, this is not a new issue.

      Anonymous, I know very little about an Accessibility Advisory Committee, but you’re probably right about that. I see that there is a blurb about the committee on the Town website, and skimmed through the Committee’s 2010 Plan, but the plan mostly addresses buildings. The only reference to snow is item 41: “Routine announcements of snow removal”. (Are they announcing that the snow will be removed eventually or that it has been removed in selected areas?!?)

      Stephanie

    • Joe B said

      Hey Stephanie,
      I absolutely agree about snow cleaning, and all the good things in this town I mentioned – that’s the kind of thing we all want to not have to think about. Perhaps snow removal in your area is an “issue” that needs to be called in to the town offices or one of the councillors.
      The point I was agreeing with RtB is that these kind of “housekeeping” issues aren’t headline making because, in my opinion, certain council members are too busy wanting to be seen as the cape crusader avenging the previous council, or in the other camp that seem to be sucking the life out of council time defending the last lot. I’ve already had my fill of both approaches, and both are becoming equally annoying.

    • sharon said

      I thought the town and region were pretty good about clearing our major streets quickly. It is a huge undertaking, expensive, exhausting, and thankless. For bus stops, call the town, they in turn call Viva, who will plow out the stops again. It is a vicious cycle. Viva is quite good about looking after their stops, but the REGION plows will come through and block their paths again. You can’t help this during high snow periods. Cmon folks,
      ease up. We live on a street that gets plowed out long after everyone else, sidewalks too. It doesn’t hurt when doing your driveway to do the sidewalk in front of your house to help eveyone who has to walk.
      If you are older or infirm, call Neighbourhood Network, they have a crew of shovellers that will come and help shovel you out!

  2. KA-NON said

    I am sorry Elizabeth, but rationalize as you might, there is no defending the traffic calming in your neighbourhood, and your neighbourhood alone.

    Traffic calming is either a bad idea/waste of money, in which case it should never have been done in your neighbourhood or anyone else’s;

    OR

    It is a good idea, in which case every neighbourhood that could be construed as a thru-way to a destination should get the same treatment.

    And there ARE plenty of those types of neighbourhoods;

    – Fairway Drive is a dragway for people going to the liqour store from Murray

    – Aurora Heights, Kemano and Orchard Heights are all thru-ways to get to places (the arena, the foodland, shoppers)

    – Gateway and Pedersen are back-ways into all of the retail/LCBO etc that lines Bayview

    – Mosely, Metcalfe, Wells, Lamont are all popular choices for people wanting to get eastbound on Wellington from northbound on Yonge

    I could go on and on. The fact that your neighbourhood is “historical” matters not a whit.

    Not trying to start a fight, however you chose to post this, and it needed a response imo.

    • Robert the Bruce said

      Traffic calming in my neighbourhood consists of a portable radar unit for a week that flashes to drivers how fast they are going. It’s something of a game to get a high score. Of course, they can always drive trhough the stop signs on two wheels too in an effort for get home soonest.

      Of course, it is not a historical area so this is all we can do or expect. Perhaps towards the end of 2099 they can put in some speed humps.

      Fuimus

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      We were given an “all” or “nothing” choice.

      “Nothing” had been tried for the last twenty years and it didn’t work. “All” is what we have now.

      Sure, I’d prefer something in between. That wasn’t an option provided by the town. Ever.

      We were told if we didn’t take what was offered, we’d go back to what we had in the past, ie “nothing”.

      If you feel your neighbourhood has unsafe areas for pedestrians, I think you should organize a neighbourhood committee and contact the town and ask them to make sensible changes to the traffic flow in your residential area.

      Then you can make your choice.

  3. JOHN H SARGENT said

    Elizabeth B ,,,I only mentioned about how successful your area is kept* snow plowed* ,yet i not think you have to ever worry of late when it will be done,,It has nothing to do with the people who live there as you just said you had to take all the additives or get none and i do know more than a few who live there now wish they had not settled for the current solution so again i was only referring to snow plowing..If you get around Aurora early after a snow even you would have to agree on the snow plowing in your area,perfect ((in winter better to take the calmed way, we know it will be plowed ))..Now that you brought it up would there be a safety issue if these streets not cleaned before the rest of the town with all the calming additives ((just a thought)

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Elizabeth B…Thanks for biting.. Nothing has been tried and it did not WORK ?????.Its very hard to believe that *nothing* was offered other than the whole calming additives of the day in the now discussion of calmed area RE snow plowing,, The town has been using speed bumps for the past twenty years in other areas, just maybe and i mean just maybe some residents in this area felt they were better than just speed bumps, and wanted to be unique..Our now ex mayor her self said in chambers,in a couple years people will accept this and forget to complain any more ..Usage of police officers and speed bumps have always been available for discussion to all ordinary residents in town of Aurora as far as i know..Why this area would be told* No*,you will get nothing but this solution is beyond me..Maybe some one on staff has the answer ?? ..Just glad it popped up trough the cracks in this snow plowing discussion as you can see it has not been forgotten, just been calming for the right moment..The cost of implementing the work and materials,extra salt and sand, repairs to bent and broken signs(yes we have seen them,after larger vehicles(like school buses etc),try to get trough this man made curved coarse and the extra snow plowing has to come in at a higher cost than regular police patrol with speed bumps..As far as i am lead to believe more is to come in future

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Sorry for the confusion.

      When we were asked to vote on the project it was clearly stated that the plan would not be modified. If we didn’t take the full plan, we wouldn’t get anything.

    • Kelli said

      Interestingly enough I actually slow down for speed bumps, but those other practices do not slow down my speed, I just head up the middle of the street now! It’s kind of fun actually!

  4. Stephanie said

    The snow-ploughing issue, I’m afraid, is nothing new. I regularly take transit and notice the condition of streets and sidewalks in the winter.

    Last winter, York Region was hit by a solid snowstorm and, as usual, the next morning, Aurora main streets were half-ploughed, the side-streets ignored and the sidewalks not cleared whatsoever. I went to Markham and couldn’t help but notice that the streets were all cleanly ploughed —bare pavement, even on the side-streets — and even the sidewalks had been well cleared.

    The disparity was so stark that I commented about it to my family. It’s surprising what a difference it made getting around. My daughter, who lives in Markham, has noticed the same thing. Markham sets the gold standard for clearing winter streets and sidewalks; Aurora barely ranks bronze medal.

  5. Anonymous said

    Perhaps snow ploughing standards have dropped because during the last term, the priorities on which to spend tax dollars did not include clearing the roads in a timely fashion. Rather, our money was spent on a lot of hiring and firing, not only of staff but integrity commissioners too and of course, oodles and oddles of legal fees.Let’s hope the focus of this council shifts the priorities back towhere they should be – services for the taxpayers.

  6. fed up said

    The town managed to find a plow this morning (8 AM) to clear the walking path that leads into the forest between Delayne and Orchard Heights. Too bad they can’t find a plow to clear the sidewalks and the street..I guess our priorities are different.

  7. I don’t want to sarcastic, but next time I see the snow plow truck making thousands runs on my street and making me dizzy, I will wave him down to go and snow plow other streets of the Aurora.

    What I mean by the above is, the first snow of the season we got, I was disappointed with the snow plow removal. I guess we were caught by surprise, so that is understandable. Then the next snow fall and next, service on our street been great. Sometimes I see the guy driving up to three times by my house, removing snow, sanding, salting – you name it. I wonder why? May be he lives on our street, or people complained on our street, or he just enjoys the very little snow we have every time. Same applies to the sidewalk snow plow – such a great job every time.

    The bottom line is that there are some weird inconsistencies going on when comes to snow clean up.

    Now that we are on the topic of the snow removal. Someone tell me how logical is that. In October a new sod grass was nicely placed along the South side of the board walk (Atkinson Pond). When myself and husband saw them placing the grass – we said, they are asking for a disaster. We were right, it is all ruined by the snow plow now. I hope that we will be not paying for this stupidity in the spring!

    Anna

    • Robert the Bruce said

      I agree that snow removal from one part of town to the next is different. A couple of years after I moved to Aurora, a house a few doors away was bought by the Town’s shiny new CAO. The first winter (and subsequent winters until he left the Town) our street was one of the first in the ‘hood to be cleared. He is of course long gone now and we are like everyone else. Like anonymous above, a couple of ex-councillors live in the area too…. I guess there is no need to clear streets.

      I will say however, this morning the street was done before I left for work. Maybe someone is reading this blog at the Town.

      Fuimus

    • Christopher Watts said

      Anna,

      I agree with you. I too was disappointed with the first snow removal but chalked that one up to being the first. Since then they have more than made up for it with trucks going by multiple times.

      I agree that the sidewalk plow does a fantastic job so there is indeed some inconsistencies in the service that need to be addressed.

      Really interested to see how the snow is cleared over on that recent re-do of Nisbet where the sidewalk is so close to the road there is no room to place the snow. In my opinion this is equally stupid to the laying of sod in the late fall and town hall needs to recognize this.

    • Fuimus that is the beauty of blogging no waiting time to express our views. I am sure that there is someone reading this blog … Anna 🙂

    • Christopher thanks.

      On the side note I forgot to add that I really don’t mind waiting for the snow removal on the side streets. If the snow plow gets before me then it makes my life 10x heavier, lol, meaning the snow on the end of the driveway mixed with salt and sand weighs a ton, and makes my snow shoveling experience less enjoyable. I am sure those who work the shovel agree with me.

      Yes it kind of sucks when you don’t have lots of room to place the snow. May be its time for some innovations – side walks equipped with geothermal technology to melt the snow, lol.

      Anna 🙂

  8. Memories of the past said

    When I was much younger we lived a long way north of Aurora and for as much as six months of the year (before global warming) we used to get about using dog sleds.

    Today we complain about a little snow and ice. How times and we have changed.

  9. Anonymous said

    Henderson is a fairly high-use street. It is normally plowed at the beginning of the cycle. I agree, even on Sunday it was not plowed. My street in south-west Aurora (near where a couple of former councillors live) was not cleared until yesterday morning and even this morning is still snow covered as they only sanded – no salt. The sidewalk plow has yet to come by.

    I recall reading in the Star that some Scarborough residents were praising their new Mayor for speedy snow removal… by extension should we be taking our new Mayor to task for slow snow removal?

  10. David Heard said

    I also went out of Town on Saturday.The 404 and 401 were a nightmare, but by afternoon I was impressed.

    All of the snow was clear and it was safe driving to Aurora.

    Then I found North Bay.

    The snow from the morning was still on most of the roads and driving was not very safe.

    I guess plows do not work north of Highway 7 on a Saturday.

    I do see plows out on Sunday quite regular …..figure that.

  11. JOHN H SARGENT said

    RE Henderson not snow plowed on Sun and citizen asks if this is the new AURORA ?// Well i guess you not drive around Temperance St area last 7 years or so as the norm has been late plowed street with sidewalks not done for days, we have even had to phone to get done after a heavy snow fall ((was told it was issue with outside firm on contract)) ..this year a little better ,but there not been a lot of snow , past Sun included..just another s observation as the NEW traffic calmed areas in the historic district past were always the first that seemed to get done .. ((go figure) Over all i think we are blessed with good service in most of the town.. outside firms are contracted to do some areas, so you just may need to make a phone call to let staff know if it is a on going issue in your area,

    • Kelli said

      Can somone tell me when the “historic district” of Aurora is getting their golden paved roads with diamond crusted curbs…. I mean come on folks they do live in the historic district for god sakes!!!!!! Maybe the rest of us Aurora minions should all go over and shovel their sidewalks personally for them! We do all put our pantson the same way but my guess is that this area of town will soon be asking for someone do that for them too!

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      I live in the area that is called the Old North East. We live between Yonge, Wellington, Mark, and Industrial Parkway.

      I think that the traffic calming in our area has received a lot of bad press and caused a lot of prejudice against the good people who live in our area.

      Put yourself in our shoes. Many people felt that our neighbourhood was used as a “short cut” to avoid a major intersection. Many of us had experienced problems with cars speeding through the neighbourhood without regard for the safety of drivers, kids or pedestrians. Yes, I did say “without regard”. I guess you weren’t there when I drove at 40 km/hr and got honked at or when I got the finger from a driver who left rubber accelerating away from a four way stop, only to encounter another four way stop in the next 80 meters.

      Traffic calming was introduced as an idea. Many people felt it was a good idea and the Town was approached. The Town found a solution.

      When we had to vote on the final product, we were given the information that if we didn’t agree to the project, we would have no traffic calming at all and we would be back to the same problems we had before: people using a residential neighbourhood with old-style sidewalks (actually elongated curbs) to avoid a new-style set of traffic lights at Yonge and Wellington.

      What would you do?

      We’re not golden or diamond encrusted. We want to live life like the folks on curved streets that don’t head anywhere do.

      Honestly, do I love the traffic calming? No… it takes me much longer to get out of my neighbourhood than it used to.

      Honestly, do I want the traffic calming removed? No, I no longer have to worry about people driving on the local “curb-sidewalk” and hitting one of my kids as the walk home from school.

      I know this isn’t a comment about snow removal.

    • Kelli said

      Traffic calming is an excellent idea Elizabeth, I should know I live right by the Aurora Tennis Club – but guess what – this part of town is not the only part of town who requires a “solution”. There are may areas of Aurora that have roadways as cut overs to other streets, children playing…. people breathing…….. where is their solution? As a matter of fact I not only work in a historical home, my boyfriend owns one….. no special solutions at either of those address’s – so until there seems to be a focus on all of Aurora, and we stop introducing ourselves as living in the “historic area” of Aurora, then the stigma will continue to “stick”!

    • KA-NON said

      See my post above at 11:43 AM, Jan 13, which should have appeared here. Reference to Elizabeth’s post therein would make more sense clearly had it been put here.

      Sorry.

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