January 14, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 57  

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Get out the snowshoes
City to cut snow removal

By Jonathan Yazer
Gazette Staff

The Forest City may be unofficially re-dubbed The City of Eternal Snow if a London city council committee approves a recommendation by city staff to reduce sidewalk snow removal services.

Dave Leckie, director of roads and transportation for the City of London, said the city has been exceeding its own standards, which require sidewalks to be cleared once eight centimetres of snow has accumulated.

“In the past, we were sending out ploughs for any snowstorm,” he said, adding this was often “additionally expensive,” since storms have a tendency to strike at night when workers are paid overtime.
“We’re facing a 10 per cent increase in taxes to maintain services,” Leckie said. “Council doesn’t feel the public would accept such an increase, and instead, has a 5 per cent increase in mind. That means you have to change what you do.”

Councillor Susan Eagle said the plan, forecasted to save the city $200,000, is one of several services being considered for cutbacks in the 2004 budget.

Although Eagle raised concerns over liability arising from an increase in falls and slips among pedestrians, Leckie reiterated the argument of city solicitor Geoff Belch. “As long as we meet our standards, we’re not in a position of liability,” he said.

“This will affect every student who walks to campus,” said Jim Galbraith, supervisor of grounds and waste at Western. “What happens if two or three centimetres isn’t plowed and gets packed down? With freezing, thawing and more snow, it can get slippery and create more unsafe conditions.”

Galbraith doubted that the university would ever consider limiting its snow clearing services to satisfy budgetary concerns. “We believe the safety of students and pedestrians is our first priority.”

Sarah Tron, a third-year sociology student, said she thought the new plan might act as a disincentive for students to attend classes. “The buses are already insanely busy and nobody wants to walk through snow up to their knees. Maybe you’ll just end up sitting at home.”

Leckie was reassuring. “We’ll monitor the conditions of sidewalks and the system [to ensure safety],” he explained.



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