ALBERTON -- Alberton Mayor Michael Murphy says he’s hoping a special meeting on Monday afternoon can help clear the air on snow clearing expectations within the town.
Murphy has invited the town’s snow removal contract and members of the business community to the 2 p.m. meeting at Town Hall.
The town office has handled several complaints about the snow-clearing over the past month, but Murphy points out the town, and, indeed, the entire province, has endured much heavier than normal snowfall in December.
“Does no one take into consideration that we had three major storms in seven days, as opposed to last year when we had eight centimeters in December? This year we’ve got probably over 100 (cm).”
Snow has already built up to the point where Murphy believes the town will soon have to arrange to have some of the stockpile hauled away from the edge of the town parking lot.
Complaints flowed in mid-December when the corner of Main and Poplar Streets were blocked at the start of business hours while crews pushed snow into the corner and from there down the hill to the edge of the town parking lot.
The breaking point, however, came on Saturday, December 21, when the business day started without Main Street, the sidewalks or the town parking lot being cleared. Some customers got stuck as they tried to find parking places.
It was the last shopping weekend before Christmas, Alberton Business Association president, Geoffrey Irving stressed, a time of year when businesses try to maximize sales prior to the traditional slow winter months. Some customers, he said, took their business elsewhere.
Murphy said the storm had not yet ended when the business day started. He pointed out it is difficult to manoeuver equipment through Main Street and the parking lot once vehicles arrive.
At a recent meeting of the Alberton Business Association, business people suggested the clearing has to be started earlier in the day, and the snow-clearing operations between the street contractor and the town’s sidewalk clearing crew need to be better coordinated.
“I feel that it’s being done in the best time period that we can accommodate right now,“Murphy stated.
Until two years ago the town did its own tendering for 9.5 kilometers of town streets and paid the winning contractor the full price. Since then the provincial government has taken over the tendering process for the town and subsidizes the price, Murphy said, at a substantial annual saving to the town. Despite that, he insisted, the contractor is under the same expectations as was the case when the town awarded the contract.
Murphy added that snow-clearing challenges are not unique to Alberton, pointing out other municipalities are facing similar issues.