Downtown Charlottetown businessman wants new plan for snow removal

Dave Stewart
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A City of Charlottetown plow clears the snow from Sydney Street.

Joe Dow says city needs to do better with snow clearing; public works chair says city doing best it can with so much snow

Downtown Charlottetown businessman Joe Dow isn’t happy with the city’s snow clearing efforts.

The owner of Dow’s Men’s Wear says it’s time to come up with a new approach.

“I hope in the new year we can all get together and try and to come up with a strategic plan; look at it from a fresh perspective; try to come up with a new way to address snowfall, especially in the month of December,’’ Dow said Thursday.

Two more storms coming

Dow and many other business owners will be busy today with Boxing Day sales.

The former board member with Downtown Charlottetown Inc. said efforts need to be better, especially leading up to Christmas considering everyone wants to be home for on Christmas Day.

“There are still banks in town. Customers are finding it hard to get over the banks and it’s treacherous now with the cold.’’

More than 80 centimetres of snow has fallen on the P.E.I. capital in less than three weeks and more is on the way. Environment Canada was forecasting up to 10 centimetres late Thursday through Friday morning with more snow in the forecast for Monday.

Dow observed that while it’s understandable that plows were off the roads on Wednesday, the absence of plows was quite noticeable on Thursday.

“Something should be done. The downtown has to be addressed better. There were plenty of times, I assume, they could have got at it during the night time. At least get the parking spots cleaned out, not just on our behalf but the customers behalf.’’

Coun. Terry Bernard, chairman of the public works committee, says the city is doing the best it can considering how much snow has fallen in just a few weeks.

“Usually, with 20 centimetres of snow it’s between three and five days to get it all cleared,’’ Bernard says. “Then we get another storm on top of that, we get some streets hauled out and we get some that are not.’’

The councillor says the first priority is to open the streets followed by the sidewalks. Up until this week, priority was also given to school zones and, depending on the day the snow falls, priority is given to churches.

Bernard acknowledges that snow has been pushed on to certain sidewalks by snowplows, that some parking spots have yet to be cleaned out and that some side streets in the capital have been reduced to one lane.

This past Monday night was an issue for snow clearing because Bernard said shoppers aren’t going to want to climb over walls of snow in the middle of the street doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. On Tuesday night, the city knew people would be heading out to church.

Crews were scheduled to be back on city streets Thursday night.

“We do appreciate people’s patience. It is a lot of snow in a short period of time,’’ Bernard said.

However, Dow said too many downtown shoppers are still complaining about the parking, road conditions and condition of the sidewalks. He looks at the parking lots at the big box stores and sees how quickly they get cleaned out, saying that gives them a business edge with shoppers.

“It’s a rough time of year but it is snow and (the city is) geared up for it and they’ve dealt with it for years. I just wish they gave it a little more priority, especially before Christmas.’’

Organizations: Environment Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Ryan
    December 28, 2013 - 22:17

    It's not only the 'shoppers & store owners' who have problems with downtown ch'town' snow removal, it's very much with residents who live there as well! I have lived in downtown ch'town now for 9 years, and I got to say this has been the slowest snow removal I have seen yet! A new process has to be implemented here, because clearly things are not working! Close down streets to clear them, work more men overnight with the parking bans in place. This alone would make a big difference in a day to day basis! When we are in over our heads hire outside companies for the help the make the process quicker. What I find is ridiculous is since the first snow storm that has hit this December, the street I live on has barly been touched..STILL!? The amount of taxes we pay just to live in downtown, you'd think we'd be treated accordingly, and atleast not have to bottem out our cars just to make it home every. for 3 weeks now!

  • Dundas Sue
    December 27, 2013 - 18:20

    I was in town today and for the first time in years saw ridgesx of snow on the yellow line on University Ave south of longworth! Give the people a break. We used to get this kind of snow all the time. We are pretty fortunate most of the time considering. We are very blessed [ imagine it aint easy to drive a blower when someone looking for a parking spot is riding your bumper.

  • gerry garden
    December 27, 2013 - 12:11

    Winter in Canada is unpredictable because we have no control over it. It has been a well known fact that maneouvering around downtown Charlottetown, at the best of time, is difficult due to narrow streets, and far too many one-way streets. Compound those irritants with excessive snowfall, then remind yourself...If you're not willing to tolerate the short-term inconvenience (snow) then do you really want to be downtown unless your place of employment is situated downtown?

  • nitpicker
    December 27, 2013 - 09:02

    I don't know what the solution is for quicker snow clearing, but I will say this: Until the parking spaces are fully cleared, tell the "parking police" to put their little ticket pads away. You want me to pay for parking, then I will need the space accessible. You may have to climb over a snowbank to get to your car, but there they are again today handing out tickets.

  • joe schmoe
    December 27, 2013 - 08:55

    On a side note. There has not been any all day parkers on Bayfield street in a couple weeks now. I think that problem has been solved. I'm guessing if it snows again Sunday I might see the sidewalk here Tuesday after next. T all the whiners I think you should go check the Highway Traffic Act. Our laws are so antiquated it likely states all able bodies men must present for shovel duty after their livestock is tended to following a snowfall.

    • Strong citizen on both sides
      December 27, 2013 - 16:04

      First of all, before I start, there will be spelling errors in this rant, whoopee! Second, for every single one of you telling people to stop whining, we get it, your tough people who can handle the snow, good job. It doesn't mean that you can declare this article useless as well as the concerns on here. I've been out shoveling for hours upon hours helping people get to their destinations as well as my own. I get that there are some who defend the plows by saying their working tough jobs with crazy hours and to that I say tough. If they can't handle the job, don't do it, they knew what they signed on for as does every employee ever. They are working on government time or contractor time, so ease up a little when judging those "whiners", they do have a point. To those who agree with the article, if you don't help out shoveling or trying to improve the roads and sidewalks like I do, then you have nothing to complain about. What I'm trying to say also applies to this very comment I've written, look at what you say on here before you say it, because the sword is double edged. There are problems with the plows clearing the snow, you can ignore and fight that all you want, but its the truth. On the other hand, it takes EVERYONE to help out and I don't care what you have as an excuse, it's not good enough. Get out and help your fellow man!

  • Trevor MacRae
    December 27, 2013 - 08:49

    No one can dispute the fact that the crews clearing snow (both municipal and contractors) are working crazy hours to get streets, sidewalks, and parking lots cleared. They deserve a big thanks from everyone. That being said, it does seem to take an inordinate amount of time to clear snow from the downtown given the size of the City. Can the City start to work smarter with the crews and hours they have? I've never seen a city handle snow so much before they truck it away. Is there a better way to get it done or is this just how it's always been? The winter parking ban -- the City's website states that it is enforced at "the discretion" of CPS. Is this enough of an incentive to move your car? Could the City announce (radio, Facebook, tweet) that crews will be focusing on X, Y, and Z Streets overnight, and all vehicles parked on those streets will be towed, no exceptions? Why can't the City close a block or two at a time outside the overnight hours? A relatively brief closure would be fully justified if it meant getting snow off the streets and sidewalks. Last week I saw City equipment having to stop and weave around traffic on Kent Street. If the block had been closed the guys on those loaders and trucks would have had an easier time. Bottom line it takes cooperation and understanding between all City stakeholders to get through inconveniences such as those presented by our recent snowfall. And to the guys and gals on the plows, loaders, blowers, and trucks -- keep up the great work.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    December 27, 2013 - 08:44

    My big beef was the water pooling at every street corner. The fact that the sidewalks have been curved down to accommodate wheeelchairs has created a big depression at the four corners of every intersection. which is just perfect for the formation of a large and deep pool that all pedestrians have to negotiate.

    • AreYouSerious?
      December 27, 2013 - 10:49

      Are you seriously going to complain about some water around sidewalks? Yes it is inconvenient but get in a wheelchair and try to maneuver your way around a sidewalk because some Stratford Observer doesn't like to get his feet wet. By some rain boots and stop complaining about the water around sidewalks because you are lucky you can walk from the road to the sidewalk and don't have to wheel yourself over a lip onto the sidewalk. Give your head a shake.

  • JonAgrees
    December 27, 2013 - 08:11

    I agree With Mr,Dow , The city needs to get it toghter . They Have 4 Million plus Funds for 2014 Or what ever that is ,and they Can't pay to remove snow properly In The City. Dumping it in everybody's Drive Way Daily . That's not Fair . Nobody is blaming the drivers , Its the method .

  • Quit whinning
    December 27, 2013 - 08:02

    I think we need to Give them a break we had 3 major snowstorms in 7 days resulting in 80cms they are doing their best. Every early morning I go to work I see line and lines of dump trucks hauling snow out of the city. And as for the reason why the big shopping centers get plowed out first is because they hire private company's to do, they are on contract to clear the snow As soon as the snow hits the ground. I applaud them for all their hard work and it's the holidays they want to spend that time with their families. I'd like to see several people go out and do their job!

  • Venessa
    December 27, 2013 - 08:02

    Quite seriously, I've read all comments and I feel like some of you need to go pound sand!!!! My father and brother BOTH drive snow clearing machines!! My dad drives a loader, clearing lots at Walmart, Future Shop, and Home Depot. My brother drives a sidewalk plow doing Mt.Edward, Brackley Point Rd, Allen street, and all side streets in between!!! If those who say crap is too slow getting done, had HALF A GOD DAMN BRAIN you would stop and realize that it takes more than 48 hours to clear snow!!! The week leading to Christmas, my brother put in 137 HOURS of work! My father, 148 hours...... IN A WEEK!!!!!!! Today is certainly no exception. My father got up and went to work at Midnight, and my brother at 2 AM so your greedy a$$es could get out to shop for crap you don't need!!! Did you also take into account the time out it takes to repair the plows should something break?? Probably not!! You must think the plows are invincible!! The next time someone wants to b!tch about not being able to get to stores or complains about the snow not being cleared, come see me!!! I'll throw you in my truck, and I'll drive you around the city and show you just how dedicated the clearing staff really are to you pathetic folk who feel "Nothing is being done!" Get over yourselves!!!

    • Bob MacDonald
      December 27, 2013 - 08:31

      Your father is driving a truck 21 hours a day and only sleeping 3! I really hope that's not true because I think it's against the law and if I'm wrong and it's not, it should be. He is a danger to those around him.....

    • Venessa
      December 27, 2013 - 09:16

      Actually he worked 30 hours non stop last week...... So yes he is,... And No he is NOT a danger to himself or anyone hes around!!! He knows his limits!! And it's not just him that's working those hours..... Whether it's against the law or not, EVERY plow driver is putting in those kinds of hours!!! You ask around..... I PROMISE everyone of them will say the same!!!

    • huh
      December 27, 2013 - 10:20

      Its not always about working hard, Venessa, its about working smart. Yes, people are impatient and like to complain, but is the approach to snow clearing in Charlottetown perfect? Maybe it is, but probably its not. There's not much done in this world that couldn't be improved upon. I think ultimately that's what most folks are getting at. By the way, if the greedy buggers out there weren't going shopping perhaps your dad and brother's services wouldn't be needed. Keep that in mind before you get a little too carried away with insults.

    • Stacey
      December 27, 2013 - 13:33

      Holy 30 hrs and driving....DUMB!!!Greedy and stupid. You are putting the word out there though seeing as you are telling all of PEI where this is happening. I will try an avoid those areas. Sounds like you are in need of a nap. PS ...You may have noticed the story is based on "Down Town"plowing

    • Billy Bud
      December 27, 2013 - 14:00

      Vanessa, if you father and brother are being paid for the work they do then they have not much to complain about. If they don't want to work all that overtime there are others who would love some extra money.

    • robb
      December 27, 2013 - 14:06

      ha ha,i think you should get over yourself.if you think or anybody else thinks the city is doing a great job removeing snow obviously has not been outside in the last week,sure people work hard ,but by no means there doing a GREAT job ,,its obvious ,

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      December 27, 2013 - 14:58

      Wow that's 20+ hours a day every day for 7 days . I smell a little BS in your tone . An there are laws again working those sort of hours ,you might want to steer clear of OHS

  • too happy
    December 27, 2013 - 07:40

    Quit Whining! It's winter, there's snow! When the budget for the year is spent then they will complain about that!

  • nothing
    December 27, 2013 - 07:00

    no big deal -there's nothing to go downtown for anyway except triple priced merchandise --

    • wilburn roach
      December 27, 2013 - 12:02

      thats the spirit don't support local businesses that stay local its better to support walmart and target and keep money in our community , send your money to arkansas or some sweat shop in china, dumass

  • Mall Shopper
    December 27, 2013 - 06:49

    Learned a long time ago it is useless to attempt shopping downtown Charlottetown after a heavy snowfall. Forget walking Sidewalks the streets are nearly impassable for the rest of the winter. Not much problem getting to the Malls via the bypass

  • Frank Dew
    December 27, 2013 - 06:42

    Totally understandable that the city would struggle with so much snow in a short time...but businesses downtown have a lot riding on December sales and as they do pay there fair share of taxes. The City will get paid regardless of the sales that the businesses earn. Maybe the City would notice the effect of the snow more if their revenues dropped significantly and they didn't have the power of taxation to make budget. I commend Public Works on their efforts...they do a great job...but when there is simply too much for them to handle why not look at contracting local private businesses to pick up the slack? If we don't take care of our local business there won't be a downtown.

  • William Mac
    December 27, 2013 - 06:19

    You can thank the union while your at it folks! I grew up downtown and remember when the crews would work all be it we heard a plow come down our street in the middle of the night, you get up in morning and the streets were all cleared! We need Dukie Fields back he will see the streets are cleared or you can find a new job!

    • summersideguy
      December 27, 2013 - 09:56

      Maybe it's the City of Charlottetown to blame and not the union. Summerside Municipal works is unionized and you see their equipment on the road overnight for 3 or 4 nights after a storm. No matter what you stance is on the union, the people operating the snow removal equipment have been out night and day trying to keep ahead if things, I've seen it in both cities. They need to rest too, maybe the issue is with the municipal politicians and city managers taking huge salaries and benefits and pinching pennies on everything else, not the municipal works employees and contractors trying to keep your streets clear of snow.

  • shsh
    December 27, 2013 - 02:54

    It's time the city contracts out the work.

  • Jill
    December 27, 2013 - 01:51

    The comments in this article just sickens me!! As well as these comments below. Most of this snow came within a week not three! This is not normal weather, especially this time of year. I think I saw someone report this time last year there was 8 cms, how do you plan for 80 when the year before we received 8? So what are they expected to do? Hire twice as many employees just in case it might snow? And what if it doesn't? Who is going to sit around just hoping that it might? And still afford to live? The ones that doing it now work long hours when needed and they don't get paid if it doesn't snow. They are on call 24/7 and cannot plan anything. Even if there was all kinds of money to hire "just in case workers" Does anyone realize how hard it is to fill a position like that?! It's the single most under appreciated job in the winter. Is it inconvenient? Yes. But it's temporary. 3 storms back to back like that is probably worst case scenario. All that snow has to be trucked to another area and it takes time, equipment and a lot of man power. A plow or payloader, a blower many dump trucks for each crew. (Just from what I see) Anyone know how much that stuff costs? I guess Mr Dow has approximately one year to come up with a better system, since he seemed to leave that part out of his rant.

    • Agreed
      December 27, 2013 - 08:08

      Thank you!!! I read this article and my blood began to boil. These workers are under appreciated I know and a single father who had to go out Boxing Day night instead of spend the time with his daughter and mind you Boxing Day was their Xmas day together. It's ridiculous how this people are complaining we have 3 major snow storms in seven days. If they are so concerned about their sidewalks and parking spots I suggest they grab a shovel because there are much more important things for the workers to be plowing

  • courtney
    December 27, 2013 - 00:44

    Where do you wany them to put the snow? Do you think it just magically dissapears when they take it. Yes we all want it gone.. But infortunately when every place they normally put it is filled its going to take longer. If Mr. Dow wants a pathway to his store Im sure he can grab a shovel. The only thing he cares about is making money anyways not the safety of his customera.

  • don
    December 27, 2013 - 00:15

    well with not living the city. i am sure that Dow knows how to fix it with all his knowledge of plowing snow. he can and will have all the streets one in the city with in 48 hours. that is after he is done shoveling along with the rest of the comments in here. the biggest trouble in he city is you keep building and building and the places you could have for parking you allow condo's but city hall needs and wants the tax money so till you stop putting up buildings and start parking lots have fun.

  • D'Arcy Horton
    December 26, 2013 - 23:09

    Doing the best they can?!? That's so funny, my parents live on Chestnut street and they haven't had snow removed from their street since the first snowfall. It makes me laugh.

  • Paul Zachariah
    December 26, 2013 - 22:43

    I hope all those business owners and residents who are having a hard time because of the lousy snow clearing will call or email their councillor and let them know in no uncertain terms how upset they. All the councillors names, emails and phone numbers can be found on the city's website. I suggest starting with Clifford Lee, the mayor, and go from there.

  • Tommy MacKinnon
    December 26, 2013 - 22:37

    What about homeowners and apartment renters in the downtown area? Sidewalks are not cleared and streets not plowed. Even the garbage trucks have a hard time navigating the streets to get at the bins.

  • Bobby Gibson
    December 26, 2013 - 22:34

    The city has always been terrible at snow clearing and always will be until business and residents speak up and demand better. I cannot understand why businesses just sit back and accept the poor job of snow clearing by the city. To be honest there is not much to attract shoppers to the downtown, but that will even get worse if there is no place to park for the few shoppers who do venture downtown.

  • Bill MacIntosh
    December 26, 2013 - 22:30

    It's too bad that Terry Bernard is not being honest with the people of Charlottetown. It is not the amount of snow, but the fact that the city refuses to pay overtime to clear the streets. Thursday would have been ideal to clear the streets since the majority of businesses were closed and traffic was low. Instead there was no work done because the council is too cheap or stupid to authorize it.

    • Jeremy
      December 27, 2013 - 00:52

      The city is given an annual budget for snow removal just like all the other services the city takes Care of. If you want quicker response times that means more jobs bigger budgets and higher taxes. I say if businesses want an edge over bigger chains then grab a shovel and start digging it's not like your compitition has there parking lots cleaned out for free

    • Bob MacDonald
      December 27, 2013 - 08:21

      I'm just seconding Jeremy's comment. So many people don't understand that cities and governments must operate within budgets the same as any private citizen. The money doesn't just magically appear to do these things.

    • Bob MacDonald
      December 27, 2013 - 08:23

      Just want to point out to Mr. Dow where he says "He looks at the parking lots at the big box stores and sees how quickly they get cleaned out, saying that gives them a business edge with shoppers." The malls pay private operators with their "own" money to clear the parking lots.

    • huh
      December 27, 2013 - 10:09

      Not what I heard Bill. A city employee himself told me some drivers are being told to go home due to safety issues because they are putting in way too many hours just so they could get OT.