Marvin Braun stands on an ice-covered 98 Avenue in Walnut Grove. He and neighbour Deanna Cindrich are frustrated by the lack of snow and ice removal on their street. The Township prioritizes roads by traffic volume and says once too much ice forms, there is little they can do to melt or remove it.

Township residents voice frustration over icy streets

Snow and ice clearance prioritized by Langley Township, according to traffic volume

Langley Township is taking heat for what some residents believe is inadequate snow and ice removal on side streets.

Deanna Cindrich and her family live on 98 Avenue, where inches of ice have accumulated on a street that sees little sunlight and is on a slight incline.

She says this, combined with the elements, has made the road treacherous.

Cindrich said she has seen Township trucks come down the street to empty garbage bins from the local park “but not one bit of salt or sand was dropped by a TOL vehicle.”

“I understand that the side roads are not a priority during a snow storm or ice storm,” Cindrich said.

“The last snowfall was on January 1st. Why are the road crews not, at minimum, dropping salt and sand on the side roads?

“They are dangerous to maneuvre whether on foot, in a vehicle or on ice skates.”

She said she was also frustrated to see a Township truck plowing an industrial area side street on New Year’s Eve just after 7 p.m., “when 200 Street and 92A Avenue was covered in deepening snow and cars could barely drive on it, running through red lights as they could not safely stop.”

“This industrial area had no traffic besides our two cars and the TOL truck as it was New Year’s Eve and a holiday the next day,” Cindrich said.

“It does not make sense to plow industrial side roads when the general taxpaying public is having trouble maneuvering the main roads safely.”

Crews working around the clock

The Township is made up of more than 900 kilometres of roadway, and priorities are assigned based on the type of street and the volume of traffic.

According to the Township, first priority roads are major collector and main arterial roads used by a large number of drivers, as well as school zones, bus routes, and hilly areas. They are serviced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as long as poor conditions remain.

Second priorities are made up of industrial and commercial roads and secondary residential through-roads providing connection between arterial and major collector roads.

These routes are serviced once conditions on first priority routes are determined to be under control. If conditions deteriorate on first priority routes, resources are redirected back to them.

The remaining local roads are third priority and are cleared last. Service is based on conditions, and if snow exceeds 10 inches at the centre line of the road, a snow plow may make a single pass.

“We’ve been, really, working around the clock since Christmas Eve,” said Roeland Zwaag, the Township’s director of public works.

“Although the forecast wasn’t for a lot of snow, a lot of snow happened on New Year’s Eve, and although we were mobilized, if you don’t get the brine on right away and plow it right away, that’s when the ice started forming.

“Ever since the new year, we’ve been actively working around the clock on our second priority roads, putting salt and sand mixes on there. Those tertiary routes, because there is so much ice on there, there’s just not a whole lot we can do as far as melting the snow. We have a policy adopted by our council that we can’t even go to the third level roads unless there is a foot of snow and only during daytime hours and all other priority roads are in good shape.”

Why no contingency?

Cindrich said the Township faced a similar situation in 2008, with heavy snow and frigid temperatures and wonders why money wasn’t put aside during less severe winters.

“We haven’t had a snowfall like this in about eight years,” Cindrich said. “So why is there not a contingency fund for years like this?”

Her next door neighbour, Marvin Braun, said he’s seen Township trucks travelling along 98 Avenue “with sand and salt in, and their blades are two feet high off the road. They’re coming this way anyhow. Drop the blade, plow a little bit out of the way. It’s not rocket science, it’s called common sense.”

Meanwhile, in the South Otter neighbourhood, resident Al Macintyre noted that days after the last significant snowfall  on New Year’s Eve, 24 Avenue east of 248 Street all the way to 264 Street had not been plowed.Macintyre contacted the Township engineering to voice his concerns.

“As a retired police officer and seeing at least two vehicles in the ditch over the week after having slid off the road, and knowing the road use by many vehicles including police, fire and ambulance, I found it extraordinary that this roadway had been left not plowed for so long,” Macintyre said.

“I get it that there are many primary priority roads to clear, but this is a week after the snow event.”

On Jan. 9, a full week later, Macintyre said the busy road remained not plowed and very treacherous.