Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:03

Clean sidewalks will keep mail carriers safe during winter

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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If you do not want a disruption in the delivery of your mail in Swift Current during the winter months, you better keep that snow shovel and bag of salt ready.

Canada Post mail carriers can be seen daily around the city on their routes to deliver mail, but sidewalks that are not kept clean from snow and ice will slow them down and increase their risk of injury from falling on the uneven and slippery surfaces.
Sophie Busse, the acting supervisor at Canada Post in Swift Current, said it happens every winter that mail carriers are injured as a result of slips and falls. There are 16 carriers who deliver mail to approximately 7,000 residences and businesses around the city.
“If the sidewalks aren’t shovelled it causes a lot of health and safety issues for our carriers,” she mentioned. “They fall, we’re short-staffed, especially this time of the year when Christmas is coming, it’s busier.”
People can expect to receive a notice in their mailbox if carriers experience difficulty to deliver mail to their address due to slippery conditions.
“If they don’t shovel their sidewalks, we can give them a warning to shovel and if they don’t shovel then their mail gets cut off,” she said. “Their mail will be held down at general delivery and they can come pick their mail up at the post office.”
It is an inconvenience people can avoid simply by shovelling their sidewalks after a snowfall and by applying salt to avoid any build-up of ice.
“That’s really all we ask,” she said.
City of Swift Current Public Works Manager Greg Parsons felt residents are generally doing their part to keep the sidewalks in front of their properties clean.
“We don’t hear too much about that,” he said. “I’ve had conversations with Canada Post and they appreciate it more than anyone. If they run into some problem areas, we try to work with them to help put the emphasis on people cleaning their sidewalks.”
A City bylaw requires property owners to keep sidewalks clean. He emphasized that people are not supposed to shovel the snow into the streets.
“In the residential areas, because we don’t do a residential program, we ask that people keep that snow on their front lawn or on their property so that it doesn’t plug up the streets and bog them down,” he said.
The only exception is the downtown commercial core, where snow from sidewalks can be placed in the street because there is nowhere else to put it.
“We do a snow removal program down there, so we give them basically a 24-hour period to shovel their sidewalks,” he explained. “They can shovel it into the street and we pick it up when we do the street cleaning.”
City staff will keep sidewalks clean in front of municipal properties to prevent it from being slippery.
“We put sand out on the steps over the overpass for example, so we do try to make it as safe as possible for people,” he said.
The City’s snow removal program is focused on keeping main and arterial roads clean. It covers about 90 kilometres, which represents about 65 per cent of the total roadway system, but local residential streets and lanes will receive little attention.
“We have our dedicated streets that are on a priority system that we do snow removal on first,” he said. “Everybody wants right in front of their own doorstep cleaned off and the harsh reality is we just haven’t got the equipment or the manpower to have a program that gets right down to those residential areas.”
City crews were kept busy after the freezing rain on Dec. 2 that covered most of southwest Saskatchewan with an especially slippery layer of ice.
“Basically we just send sanding units out and they try to cover as much territory as they can, especially the intersections where it gets pretty slippery when people try to stop or get started,” he said.
The City’s sanding program is focused on intersections, bridge decks, hills and curves throughout Swift Current. About 1,200 cubic metres of sand, which is mixed with a three per cent salt content, is used during a typical winter. Parsons said it is not very effective to try and remove the ice with graders.
“If we get some really bad rutting we can sometimes shave them down with the graders, but basically it’s sanding,” he explained. “Highways uses a potash material that help them out with the ice a little bit better, but we can’t get into that because all of our water drains into the storm system and so then you get salts and contaminates into the creek.”
The City’s snow removal budget covers a calendar year. The mild winter at the start of the year has left it in a healthy state and City crews will be ready to deal with the result of any bad weather during the festive period.
“We have people on call for holiday time and if we get a real blizzard or a real dump of snow then we look at calling in people,” Parsons said.
“Basically we just take it as it comes. If it hits us, we’ll react to it and try to get a full crew out there to make things passable.”

Read 7243 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:31

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