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Barry N
05-12-2006, 08:23 AM
Snow-clogged streets bust cleanup budget

The Edmonton Journal

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

EDMONTON - The city will spend about $3 million over the next three weeks clearing snow from arterial roads.

Transportation officials are concerned about the buildup of windrows on the sides of roads.

Many of the windrows are now a metre wide and are encroaching on the driving lanes, city spokesman Bob Dunford said.

With temperatures this week hovering near the freezing mark, roads that had been snow-packed look more like dark oatmeal and have made driving conditions even tougher.

More than 58 centimetres of snow has fallen on Edmonton this autumn, an unusually high amount for this point in the season.

Another two to four centimetres was expected overnight Monday. Environment Canada is calling for flurries today.

The snow removal program will include 300 kilometres of high-speed roads, hills and bridge decks.

As of Nov. 30, the city had spent about $32 million of the $34.4 million that was budgeted for winter road maintenance this year.

The snow-removal program, which costs about $3 million, will put the city over budget.

The city also still has to pay for regular sanding and plowing in December, a month when costs average about $7 million.

"What we spend depends entirely on the weather," Dunford said.

The snow removal will take place between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

It is expected to take about three weeks, provided there are no more major snowstorms.
The Edmonton Journal 2006




Copyright 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

grish
05-12-2006, 10:23 AM
I know it is too late for existing neighbourhoods, but if we continue to spread out so much, this high cost is only going to go up and only higher property taxes will be able to fix the problem. i think the city should draw an imaginary line and say--we are not growing beond this point for the next 20 years. density is the only answer to increasing costs of maintenance.

IanO
05-12-2006, 11:38 AM
the roads of late have been terrible....and i dont mean side roads i mean 105st, 99st, jasper....

Edmonton put some damn money into this....we get snow, CLEAR it

RichardS
05-12-2006, 12:04 PM
The real question is...

Is snow clearing really over budget, or is the initial budget too low? ;)

grish
05-12-2006, 12:08 PM
The real question is...

Is snow clearing really over budget, or is the initial budget too low? ;)

another question is--are we (the city) an example of a bottomless pit of cash?

IanO
05-12-2006, 12:19 PM
The real question is...

Is snow clearing really over budget, or is the initial budget too low? ;)

another question is--are we (the city) an example of a bottomless pit of cash?

and the other question is -- are we a capital city of 1,000,000 people who deserve major and arterial roads cleared or just accept **** poor driving conditions around this damn city?

RichardS
05-12-2006, 12:54 PM
Like I said at the C2E meeting....potholes and street clearing should not be items of continual discussion...they should just be done.

grish
05-12-2006, 01:29 PM
Like I said at the C2E meeting....potholes and street clearing should not be items of continual discussion...they should just be done.

no, but better city planning is a matter for discussion and my point is, while we need to get the snow cleared because we cannot afford the city to stand still after every snow dump, we should plan our city better so that we can afford to do the things we need to do. Montreal has larger population and smaller land surface--no wonder they can afford to clear the snow even considering that their snow fall is much greater than edmonton's on average.

If you want the roads cleared no matter what--then expect the city taxes to be three or four times greater than they are now.

IanO
05-12-2006, 01:32 PM
Like I said at the C2E meeting....potholes and street clearing should not be items of continual discussion...they should just be done.

no, but better city planning is a matter for discussion and my point is, while we need to get the snow cleared because we cannot afford the city to stand still after every snow dump, we should plan our city better so that we can afford to do the things we need to do. Montreal has larger population and smaller land surface--no wonder they can afford to clear the snow even considering that their snow fall is much greater than edmonton's on average.

If you want the roads cleared no matter what--then expect the city taxes to be three or four times greater than they are now.


agreed but main roads and arterial should be STANDARD FARE.

grish
05-12-2006, 01:35 PM
/\ true that 8)

RichardS
05-12-2006, 01:40 PM
grish, you missed the point. It is that we shouldn't be talking about this, there should be an agreed to snow removal policy and then it is just executed....whether or not it is city wide every dump or whatever. Same for potholes. Turning this into a "city planning anti urban sprawl you suck SUV owners" discussion is not a part of this. We are a winter city, people want snow removal, and if city wide is what they want, then the burbs can ante-up and freaking pay for it. THAT'S the point.

grish
05-12-2006, 01:42 PM
grish, you missed the point. It is that we shouldn't be talking about this, there should be an agreed to snow removal policy and then it is just executed....whether or not it is city wide every dump or whatever. Same for potholes. Turning this into a "city planning anti urban sprawl you suck SUV owners" discussion is not a part of this. We are a winter city, people want snow removal, and if city wide is what they want, then the burbs can ante-up and freaking pay for it. THAT'S the point.

I disagree as per everything I said above. if the city stretches 200km accross--you better have the people and their tax dollars to clear the snow, otherwise you can afford to do just that and nothing else.

RichardS
05-12-2006, 01:47 PM
Sorry, if they choose to pay for it, what do you have to say about it? That is their choice.

Everything is not about high rises and people driving smart cars. Get over it. People still want their .3-.5 acres no matter how much we try to promote density. This city will still grow outward. ...and as long as they are willing to pay for it, who am I to tell them otherwise? The same goes for street cleaning. If the neighborhood wants it and is willing to pay for it, then fine.

grish
05-12-2006, 02:19 PM
Sorry, if they choose to pay for it, what do you have to say about it? That is their choice.

Everything is not about high rises and people driving smart cars. Get over it. People still want their .3-.5 acres no matter how much we try to promote density. This city will still grow outward. ...and as long as they are willing to pay for it, who am I to tell them otherwise? The same goes for street cleaning. If the neighborhood wants it and is willing to pay for it, then fine.

people who want their .3-.5 acres... how about what I want? I want to live in a city that is vibrant, protects its environment, where business is growing and people are employed, where the cost of living isn't unaffordable, where I can get to and from places comfortably, that has decent variety of art, enterntainment, and activities, where I don't have to drive/ ride for longer than 15min to get to places.

I say we cannot have both .5 acres for everyone and the life I have described.

People want .3-.5 acres...that is a pretty general statement, isn't it? how do we know what people want? I know what I want

Brentk
05-12-2006, 02:43 PM
^ Seriously? You can easily tell what people want by the way the city is growing. Families tend to want like Richard stated there .3-.5; The other demographics are varied, but condo living is becoming more popular. We all have wishes and wants, the said truth grish is that you are at a minority.

Do I think density and environmental awareness is needed for Edmonton. . . YES. Do I think it is about to happen...no...not in our market place, and especially not in Alberta at this point.

I do think that higher price points, will lead to more condo living, especially with more people moving to the province that are used to condo living...time will tell.

grish
05-12-2006, 03:35 PM
^ Seriously? You can easily tell what people want by the way the city is growing.

the city continues to release more and more land. building of individual houses is much easier than building multi-family complexes. because of all that, housing prices are comparable if not lower than condo prices. that shouldn't be. city must look after its own interests and draw the line on land releases and single-family building permits. houses will increase in prices, condos will be in higher demand, city will densify and, in the long run, will become cheaper to run as the tax base per square km will be much greater.

it isn't about what people want. it is about what's available in this case. an average family doesn't have to think strategically and long term when looking to put a roof over their heads. I may be as guilty as most of them in a few years when or if I decide to buy a house in the suburbs.

This forum is dedicated to people thinking about ways to improve edmonton on small and large scales. the large scale in this case being--plan the city in such a way that we can afford to operate it.

what people want always depends on the information they have. educate people that their choices in the long run will result in trippling of their property taxes and they will think twice before choosing their .5 acres and a 5 car garage.

Titanium48
05-12-2006, 03:37 PM
I think some compromise is in order. As much as we promote high density options, we're not going to convince everyone that they want to live in a condo any time soon. That said, 0.3 to 0.5 acres (1200 to 2000 m2) is a ridiculous lot size for a city the size of Red Deer, nevermind Edmonton. Large SFH can easily be built on lots less than 500 m2 without sacrificing a decent sized back yard. As for cost, how about we try to quantify how much sprawl costs us in increased service delivery costs and make property taxes partially dependant on lot size rather than just property value? Or how about varying service levels with density, so core areas and high density suburbs get their roads cleared first and everyone else has to wait a while?

IanO
05-12-2006, 03:38 PM
how about clearing from the centre out.....i cant get over how on my walks to work in the mornings the downtown of the downtown looks like i am the snow removal department with my soup spoon.

RichardS
05-12-2006, 04:01 PM
I say we cannot have both .5 acres for everyone and the life I have described.

People want .3-.5 acres...that is a pretty general statement, isn't it? how do we know what people want? I know what I want

Quality of life....TO YOU. Some actually like the suburban life, as sterile and silly as you may seem to think it is...and I would say the MAJORITY of people in North America want their piece of dirt.

How do I know that people like their little piece of land? Look around you grish.....just look. You don't need to rely on your oft-used fallback quote of "gimmie facts and figures", just look. No hand wringing required, just good old fashioned map reading and observation. Then, you see the Windermers and the Cameron Heights and the expansions in Sherwood Park and St Albert and Spruce Grove and Leduc, not to mention that each and EVERY time a highrise infill development is proposed, NIMBY's by the dozens show up and lament density and high rise developments and how it "kills" the quaint "single family home" lifestyle. For crying out loud grish, just look at the opposition to the "row housing" proposed on school land if you don't think that people want and will feaverishly defend having to the point of looking pious and elitist.

Don't tell me it isn't about what people want, it IS ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WANT. If they don't get it from Mayor A, they'll elect Mayor B who promises them what they want. If they don't get single family housing in Edmonton, then they will go to Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove and St Albert and...

The key to getting the density working in Edmonton is for more Century Parks to show up - aka QUALITY (yes Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y) high density developments. Not the Legacy's and the Perigrine Points of the world. However, I don't see too many more Century's sprouting up as quickly as I see the West End near the Grange EXPLODING with growth.


So, as long as land is what we demand, it is than up to the city as a whole to decide how and when to clean snow. Not cleaning snow because you "don't like Mr. Burb" is foolhardy. That approach will never win, and in fact, it will feed the NIMBY's even further.

As long as there are people willing to pay for living in the outskirts, there will be even more outskirts. ...and as long as they want to pay for snow removal, then let them. They'll just elect someone who will do it anyway...12, 000 DT residents vs 750,000 in other areas...guess who wins.

IanO
05-12-2006, 04:03 PM
rich....breathe, dont forget to breathe.

RichardS
05-12-2006, 04:05 PM
As for cost, how about we try to quantify how much sprawl costs us in increased service delivery costs and make property taxes partially dependant on lot size rather than just property value? Or how about varying service levels with density, so core areas and high density suburbs get their roads cleared first and everyone else has to wait a while?

I like your option 1. I keep saying that as a rural boy gorwing up, we didn't even have the option of a tax base subsidizing our services. We needed a well, we paid for one to be drilled. Need a waste disposal system, get a septic dug, at your dime. Want natural gas...fork over $4k to the local gas co-op. Electricity, heck TransAlta has a great deal for you, they'll charge you $$$ to extend the line, then $$$ to give you power, and then $$$ for the freaking transformer to give you the power and then $$ for the freaking meter so they can BILL you! :)

Like I keep saying, if they want it, shell out for it. Same goes for the price of living in the outskirts - pay for it. Don't cry to me when the price of gas goes up and you can't drive your SUV. ;)

RichardS
05-12-2006, 04:20 PM
rich....breathe, dont forget to breathe.

I did...now about that 3 bdrm condo Ian... ;)

that was something I forgot. Even if you wanted to live in a higher density area, not only are there few 3 bdrm condo's on the market, but those that are are overpriced. So, if you want more than 2 kids, or even extra space of any kind with a family, off to the burbs you go! So, it is not solely about poor city planning...

Then the circular market ensues. There are no 3 bdrm condos because the developer's research says it isn't profitable, but those that are on the market and are reasonably priced sell. Then developers who see these look to scarcity and jack up the prices to the point where is DOES make financial sense to live in the burbs...so the demand dies.

Until you can get a way to entice families into higher density in the EDMONTON market's mindset and provide them a quality product that is in the price range they need, then the grish ideal is loooong off...so crank up the plows already. Dem dar burbs be expandin'! ;)

I know I sound cranky...I am. As much as I know Edmonton needs to densify and grow inwards, ramming it down their throats or using snowplowing as a bargaining chip to force you to move inward is NOT the way to go. The accidents alone and the carnage within make me cringe...look at St Albert Trail at about 3 pm yesterday...that one was BAAAAAD.

IanO
05-12-2006, 04:41 PM
2bdrm condos are enough for families....plus even in van you dont find many 2 kid fams downtown, 1 sure...but two are very rare.

What we need to do though, and i agree very much, is to provide more diversity with downtown living:

1. smaller affordable condos in the core of the core for students and young proff.

2. more lofts for diversity

3. 3bdrms for richard

4. townhomes for those who want to be downtown but not "in an apartment". (I DONT KNOW WHY WE DONT HAVE THESE!!!!!!!!!)

5. more rental options

6. more artist habitats on say 107ave, 97st areas.

RichardS
05-12-2006, 04:54 PM
I agree...

However, a 2 kid family, 2 bedrooms won't do. Not for the majority anyway...

Funny enough though, in the 40's, people raised families of 4 kids in 1100 sq ft...my how times have changed...and when you listen to the stories of how crappyand crowded it was...no wonder.

grish
05-12-2006, 05:15 PM
How do I make it come accross without drawing a stick man and a pie-chart?

Ok, let me see...

People think that because most of the current residents in edmonton live in single family detached house, that is what they want. It sounds reasonable.

Other than their own patch of grass, people want to have money to retire on, help their kids with college, go travel, and give to charity every once in a while. I think this sounds reasonable as well.

If you want both of these things, would you go out and buy a large plot of land with the money that you have and build a house?

The answer is:
-yes, if you can afford it not just this year, but for the next 25 years that you will have to balance the mortgage and all the taxes/ expenses that come from owning a house.

What are the true costs to owning a single, detached house? Well, there are the obvious costs that are spelled out in regular print--mortgage, repairs, taxes.

Then there is the fine print. The same fine print 98% (made up number) of people ignore. This cost results from everybody in edmonton owning a large house.

These implications (the fine print) are (in no particular order):
-urban sprawl and the costs on the environment
-increase in city maintenance costs (SNOW CLEARING INCLUDED!!!)
-increase in commute times and increase costs of public transit
-having to own more than one vehicle because everything is soo inaccessible otherwise
-less-active lifestyle (have-to-drive-everywhere-so-cannot-walk-a-few-blocks-without-getting-winded-about-to-get-a-heart-attack-loose-job-loose-money-type-of-lifestyle)
-and probably others I haven't thought about

when you include this fine-print, not everyone who can afford a single, detached house can ACTUALLY afford this house.

You say "that is what people want..." I doubt that. Just like I doubt that most people want to supersize their burger, or get a three-for-one special. Just like getting the "you have just won a $1,000,000 prize... to claim it--buy a house" type of offer is probably isn't quite what people want.

People go to house living because it is there, it is very tempting. However, only some of the house dwellers can actually afford and trully want that lifestyle.

The city of edmonton cannot afford to wait for people to learn to read the fine print. We need to plan our city in such a way that we can afford to run and grow the city economically well.

Titanium48
05-12-2006, 06:14 PM
What are the true costs to owning a single, detached house? Well, there are the obvious costs that are spelled out in regular print--mortgage, repairs, taxes.

Then there is the fine print. The same fine print 98% (made up number) of people ignore. This cost results from everybody in edmonton owning a large house.

These implications (the fine print) are (in no particular order):
-urban sprawl and the costs on the environment
-increase in city maintenance costs (SNOW CLEARING INCLUDED!!!)
-increase in commute times and increase costs of public transit
-having to own more than one vehicle because everything is soo inaccessible otherwise
-less-active lifestyle (have-to-drive-everywhere-so-cannot-walk-a-few-blocks-without-getting-winded-about-to-get-a-heart-attack-loose-job-loose-money-type-of-lifestyle)
-and probably others I haven't thought about


So let's internalize these costs. Introduce a $0.25/m2 (lot size) property tax levy instead of a simple percentage increase, and increase this rate when the city needs more tax revenue. Lobby the province to introduce pay by the kilometer automobile insurance so people will pay up front for that long commute and not have to pay twice when they choose to take the bus. Lobby the province to replace the natural gas rebate with a program to help pay for installing better insulation. Remind the banks that people who don't need to spend as much on transportation can spend more on their mortgage and vice-versa.

RichardS
05-12-2006, 06:56 PM
2 of the 4 are already there....but none address the snow removal issue.

Insurance already takes into account driving distance. $$$ is greater the longer you drive, especially in multiple zones.

There is a program for improving my home already, albeit federal. I think it came with the One Tonne Challenge, but if you got an energy audit and then fixed what was wrong, you got a federal rebate. Hence new windows and doors and hot water heaters (tankless with a .90 quotient), new pilotless damperd furnace, etc.

You can't tell the banks how to sell their loans. The Royal just posted a 4 billion dollar profit, so I think they know what sells. Why would they give up on the multiple car loans, boat loans, storage shed loans, home improvment loans, house upgrading, debt consolidation, etc etc. ;)


As for taxes based on size, funny but if I remember correctly that is how we were taxed in the County of Leduc...as well as assessed value. I've always wondered why that doesn't exist in the city.

You could enact a levy to the neighborhoods that want more than the once a season clearing.

__________________________________________________ ___________________

Grish, people downtown own more than one vehicle. I am one of them. I have 3. Oh, and I take transit too.

People downtown have a cannot-walk-a-few-blocks-without-getting-winded-about-to-get-a-heart-attack-loose-job-loose-money-type-of-lifestyle. Oh, and they smoke too. A lot of suburban people take the nature walks and jog. Additionally, they are involved in sports. Not everyone is a 400# lardbutt.

Commute times increase...depending on where you commute to. West Ed to downtown or Callingwood to West Ed...

Sprawl does cost the environment...that one cannot argue.

Still, the cost of a family style home downtown is still more than the loaded costs of a suburban residence, lawnmowing included. The only time it starts to equalize is with acerage owners as they pay more to get the services installed. You assume that everyone lives on the opposite side of the city from work, are lazy, and don't care about the environment. I see plenty of lardbutts near my area in Oliver...thanks for the generalizations.

Plus, these amazing DT or Denisty folks still don't shovel the sidewalks... :(

ralph60
05-12-2006, 10:50 PM
I hate to repeat myself. (well, actually I like to :wink: ) Edmonton has to be careful about alienating the suburbanite. There are over 50,000 people in St. Albert who pretty much pay the full shot of their services through property taxes as there is next to no commercial tax base here. Our taxes are a lot higher than Edmonton, yet our growth rate is higher as well.
People live here because, on the whole, our services are better than Edmonton's.
I have debated St. Albert vs Edmonton, annexation etc. a lot on this forum and am not trying to raise those questions again. All I am saying is Edmonton needs to be careful how they treat the suburban middle class. If the city isn't careful you will see an accelerated flight to the burbs like has happened throughout the U.S.. In 50 years Edmonton could be a donut, all the development outside the Henday and all thats left inside is a hole.

Titanium48
06-12-2006, 01:27 AM
Insurance already takes into account driving distance. $$$ is greater the longer you drive, especially in multiple zones.

Not really. Some insurance companies may make small adjustments based on estimated distance driven, but it's not a factor in the rate grid. Nobody saves a few dollars on their insurance when they say "I think I'll take the bus today".



There is a program for improving my home already, albeit federal. I think it came with the One Tonne Challenge, but if you got an energy audit and then fixed what was wrong, you got a federal rebate. Hence new windows and doors and hot water heaters (tankless with a .90 quotient), new pilotless damperd furnace, etc.

There was. It was cancelled by "Canada's New Government". I will admit that this would be a bad time to introduce a provincial replacement due to the labour shortage and resulting insane construction costs.



You can't tell the banks how to sell their loans. The Royal just posted a 4 billion dollar profit, so I think they know what sells. Why would they give up on the multiple car loans, boat loans, storage shed loans, home improvment loans, house upgrading, debt consolidation, etc etc. ;)

I was thinking more along the lines of allowing a higher borrowing limit in areas where the mortgagee's transportation costs are lower.



You could enact a levy to the neighborhoods that want more than the once a season clearing.

That could work too.

RichardS
06-12-2006, 07:42 AM
All I am saying is Edmonton needs to be careful how they treat the suburban middle class. If the city isn't careful you will see an accelerated flight to the burbs like has happened throughout the U.S.. In 50 years Edmonton could be a donut, all the development outside the Henday and all thats left inside is a hole.

Exactly...and exactly why coercing or forcing folks to move to denser neighborhoods by penalizing them won't work. Provide quality developments that showcase any virtues, and let folks who buy think that this switch is their idea.

KC
28-02-2016, 06:18 PM
It's looking like we should see a big savings on snow clearing in 2015/16. :-)

highlander
28-02-2016, 07:02 PM
I dunno. I saw a grader shifting windrows on streets of no consequence on Friday and Saturday. They seem determined to spend money getting rid of snow that's not going to last long no matter what they do.

Edmonton PRT
28-02-2016, 07:32 PM
^ Really now! You mean like taking the little snow off the grass that would have melted within a week, placing it on the street, moving it to the middle and back and then blowing it into a truck and hauling it away? The three graders, a snow thrower and 4 waiting 40 ft dumpers that are hard at work removing a 10" high windrow at 2 mph. Are you suggesting that snow clearing crews are wasting money? Say it isn't so!

Doc Hollywood
29-02-2016, 09:46 AM
^ Really now! You mean like taking the little snow off the grass that would have melted within a week, placing it on the street, moving it to the middle and back and then blowing it into a truck and hauling it away? The three graders, a snow thrower and 4 waiting 40 ft dumpers that are hard at work removing a 10" high windrow at 2 mph. Are you suggesting that snow clearing crews are wasting money? Say it isn't so!

I'd say so. I've seen the graders "plowing" bare streets before with the only result being a lot of fancy sparks flying into the air. I'm sure upkeeping equipment isn't funded by taxpayers. :rolleyes: