Monday, January 24, 2011

Snow Removal Update

City crews, bolstered by additional contracted forces, made good headway on local roads over the weekend. I noticed the crews made some major progress in the north end of the Ivy Lake area, 101 Street in Swanavon was done and they should be mostly through the Countryside neighbourhood.

The staff have picked up where they left off before the big weekend snow fall, so if your neighbourhood hadn't been done before then it should be one of the first to have some attention now. - the flip side to that is of course that if you were done before the big snow fall (like my neighbourhood) then you'll be a little further down the list.

Today they will complete Countryside North and Signature Falls and then move on into the Summit, Mountview and Mission Heights areas.

Of course not everyone has seen an improvement yet and I know thats frustrating but we are on our way. We have a Public Works committee meeting this Tuesday and I'm going to formally ask staff to do a "post-mortem" review of our systems and the response this this event to see what we might be able to learn from it.

Media Release
January 24, 2011

Snow Removal Efforts Move Into New Neighbourhoods Today

Weekend snow removal efforts saw major inroads into the backlog resulting from the mid-January record snowfall.

Today, crews will complete Countryside North and Signature Falls and move into the Summit, Mountview and Mission Heights areas.

“The lack of snow in the forecast and milder conditions are a bonus right now,” says Transportation Services Manager Robert Carroll.

The addition of contractor equipment has doubled City of Grande Prairie forces to tackle the accumulation of snow.

“We thank everyone who has co-operated by moving their vehicles off the streets and understand that those people who have not seen a plough are anxious to see their streets ploughed,” Carroll says.

The milder conditions have helped reduce the size of windrows, reducing safety issues.

“We appreciate the many people who have called or sent messages to us asking us to address this issue,” Mayor Bill Given says. “It is regrettable that people have been stuck and are inconvenienced by our extreme weather earlier this month. This remains our top priority and crews will continue to work around the clock until we are caught up.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hydrants need a helping hand

Aquatera just released the following info ... I know we're all tired of shoveling but this is a major safety issue:
Grande Prairie, AB – Somewhere in a snowbank near your property is a fire hydrant that may be desperately needed on a moment’s notice. 
Aquatera and local fire departments are urging the public to clear out hydrants near or on their property regularly so they can be used at a moment’s notice by fire crews in the region.  Fire hydrants should be easily accessible from the street, and have clearance of one metre on all sides of the hydrant, as well as two metres on each side of the hydrant. 
Aquatera provides approximately 2300 hydrants throughout Grande Prairie, the County of Grande Prairie and Town of Sexsmith, as part of service agreements with municipal governments.  Hydrants are typically located 200 metres or less from each other, and provide fire crews quick and easy access to water in emergencies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Removal Response

It's no surprise there've been lots of questions about how the City is addressing the massive amount of snow we received over the weekend. Here's the answers (Please take some time to read the fact sheet at the bottom)

Media Release
January 19, 2011

City Adjusts Snow Removal Plans To Tackle Latest Snowfall

The City of Grande Prairie has amended its regular ploughing practices to step up removal of the record snowfall from last weekend.

As neighbourhoods streets are addressed, residents may notice adjusted levels of service due to the need to expedite snow removal operations. For example, residents could be required to remove ploughed snow from the end of their driveways. As well, in some neighbourhoods snow will be stored in locations not typically used such as sidewalks.

“Cars parked on roadways makes snow removal impossible as equipment cannot fit between vehicles and windrows,” says Robert Carroll, Transportation Services Manager. “This means some streets may not receive snow removal service until the vehicles are removed.

“Snow clearing in driveways and storing the snow in windrows constitute a high level of service and this needs to be relaxed to speed up operations. This adjusted snow removal measure means that the same area can be covered with less staff, resulting in more crews working simultaneously.”

A second measure being implemented is a relaxation of the City’s Noise Bylaw which does not allow snow removal operations after 10 p.m. on Priority 2 routes.

“This Bylaw is in place to enable our citizens to enjoy quiet in the later hours of the evening,” says Mayor Bill Given. “Due to our current situation, it is necessary to speed up the removal of snow from neighbourhoods.”

Sunday’s 20-centimetre snowfall eclipsed a 60-year record. Crews worked overtime throughout the weekend to combat the accumulation.

“These temporary steps will allow our crews in carrying out their work,” says Mayor Given. “Addressing this issue is the top priority for Council and Administration and we applaud crews for their efforts to date. Residents will be informed daily of progress.”

Crews are working in three eight-hour shifts, augmented by contracted equipment seven days a week as long as required. The City invests about $6 million annually in snow ploughing and ice control.

Media enquiries may be directed to:
Mayor Bill Given

City of Grande Prairie Snow Removal Fact Sheet – January 19, 2011

• Crews worked overtime throughout the weekend to combat the record snowfall. These forces were ramped up with contractor equipment on Priority 1 roads.


The City’s Snow Removal Policy calls for Priority 1 & 2 routes to be ploughed first. These include:
Priority 1 – Major Arterial – 100 St, 84 Ave, 68 Ave, Resources Rd, Hwy 40 - Wapiti Road, etc.
Priority 2 – Transit Bus Routes and Major Collector Roadways; Crystal Lake Drive, Mission Heights Drive, Poplar Drive, Royal Oaks Drive, etc.

• The City has advised residents to remove ALL vehicles from these Permanent Snow Routes (Priority 1 and Priority 2) immediately.

• City Crews are presently working on all of our Bus Routes and vehicles parked on these routes are a hazard and make the clearing of snow very slow and difficult or impossible.


• The City is employing six graders, four plough trucks (dump trucks with either plough on the front or under the belly), five front-end loaders with angle blades, five City dump trucks, four contracted dump trucks and one snow blower for clearing windrows. 

• The City has secured 12 additional pieces of heavy equipment – six graders and six front end loaders – to supplement the fleet to expedite snow removal operations. Additional trucks have been hired to assist snow hauling operations.


• Typically, residential streets are ploughed with driveways being cleared and the snow piles being stored in windrows or on rights of way.

• Residents may need to assist by removing ploughed snow from the ends of their driveways.

• A temporary relaxation of the Noise Bylaw will allow snow clearing operations to continue past 10 p.m. on Priority 2 routes.


• The City’s total budget for snow ploughing and ice control is about $6 million.

• There are 130 kilometres of Priority 1 and 2 roads and 180 kilometres of residential streets to clear for 310 kilometres total.

• Up to 30,000 truckloads of snow must be hauled to the snow dump to remove the accumulation to date. By comparison in the winter of 2006-2007 (a record snowfall year), 75,000 truckloads were hauled away between Oct. 27 and April 2007.

• In average conditions, it takes up to six weeks to do a complete cycle of snow removal in the City with only municipal forces.

Saturday Disruption at 84th Ave & Wapiti Rd

Despite what you might guess given out weather it's not snow related...

"Media Release
January 21, 2011

Lane Closures on Wapiti Rd (108 St) at 84 Ave Intersection

Residents are advised that Bell Canada is installing services to a School Saturday and Sunday, January 22-23. The company is going to be performing service locates at the intersection of Wapiti Rd (108 St) and 84 Ave.

Heavy equipment will be working in the intersection over the course of the weekend. Work in the intersection will be performed during the hours of 9:30-11:30 a.m., 1:30-4:30 p.m. to minimize disturbance to the flow of traffic.

“Drivers should be advised that through traffic will be disrupted during these temporary lane closures,” says Engineering Field Inspector, Claude Laurin.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience during this temporary inconvenience.”


Media enquiries may be directed to:
Claude Laurin
Engineering Field Inspector

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Moving on With York Hotel Site

Since council directed the city to purchase the York Hotel I've been focused on getting on to the point where we can start to move forward on getting something new built on the site.

We had to move through transitioning the residential and commercial tennants in the building to new homes. We had to go through inspections of the building, removal the hazardous materials it contained, an environmental site assessment (it got a clean bill of health) and finally demolition and removal of the building.

Late last year, just before Christmas, Council held a planning session to figure out what our priorities were with the now vacant land (both the York Hotel site and the Germaine Park site), what our vision is for that area of downtown and what we'd like to achieve with property. Out of that session a report came to our GGS committee yesterday that laid out the next steps in moving forward.

Essentially we've set up an open process where any party can submit their proposal for developing the site. We have not closed the door to anything at this point and we're looking to see what the business community thinks might be feasible. We'll be open to all-comers and looking for proposals far and wide. When they come in council will get together as a group to review the proposals and determine which we'd like to invite to move to the next step which would get in to a greater level of detail and be more formal. Essentially you could say we're looking to "pre-qualify" the proposals.

So everyone is clear, Council has agreed on a set of five broad principles that we'd weigh the proposals against to measure them. The 5 (with my comments in italics)are:

1. The proposal meets the concepts within the Downtown Enhancement Plan and the Municipal Development Plan.
(We've already approved these plans and they've received plenty of public input. Any proposal should support the goals and ideas contained in these documents.)

2. Explain the overall financial benefit to the City
(The city invested nearly $2m to buy the property and clean it up. We want to know what kind of financial return any proposal will generate. This could be just the purchase price someone would offer, but it could also relate to what kind of taxes any new property would generate. For example someone could offer more money up front to buy the property but build only a small building that doesn't generate a lot of property taxes. OR there might be a proposal that puts a low value on the land but builds a larger building that pays more property taxes each year. Keeping in mind that it'll pay property taxes forever that long term value of a proposal like that might be worth more to the city than one with a higher up-front purchase price.)

3. Project timelines
(How soon can you get something built? We want to see something build sooner rather than later. It's no benefit to the community - or our tax base - to have the property sit empty so we want to hear how quickly any proposal would expect to start and finish construction)

4. Developer’s experience in projects of this nature, including ability to complete, and proven financial expertise
(With something like this we want to know if the person we're talking to actually has the expertise to do what they are saying and, just as importantly, do they actually have the money in the bank to do what they say that can. We're looking for serious people who have the proven ability and financial backing to complete a project like this.)

5. Explain the increase in density of the proposal and impact on activity in
the Downtown

(We want to see something that adds activity and life to our city's core. We also believe that the land should be used to it's maximum potential and should be the kind of development which speaks to the future of our downtown. It is just an office building that's closed after 5pm or does it also have commercial/retail space that may be open in to the evening? Does it have any residential? How will it build on the activity generated by the Farmer's Market?)

Hopefully we'll launch the process towards the end of this month and interested parties will be able to pick up a package with details on the site, the process how to submit a proposal. They'll then have 60 days to put together a proposal which will then be reviewed by council using the principles above. Council will have the ability to reject any or all proposals if we don't see anything that comes close. We'll also have the ability to select as many as we see fit and invite them to move on to the next step where they can provide a greater level of detail.

I think this allows us the greatest amount of flexibility and allows developers to enter the process without having to commit a great detail of resources to the first step - after all it costs something to put these kind of proposals together.

I'm looking forward to kicking this off and seeing what kind of innovative proposals come forward.

View City DownTown Property in a larger map

Development Proposals Anticipated In April
Media Release
January 12, 2011

The General Government Services Committee today recommended City Council initiate a Request For Information (RFI) process for developing downtown lands owned by the municipality.

The RFI would be issued for development concepts for the former York Hotel and/or Germain Park lands. City Council will consider the recommendation at its Jan. 24 meeting.

It would be open for 60 days and must address five principles. Proposals must meet the concepts within the Downtown Enhancement and Municipal Development plans. They will also explain the overall financial benefit to the City and include project timelines.

Submissions must also detail the developer’s experience in successfully completing projects of this nature and their proven financial expertise. As well, they will indicate the increase in density associated with the proposal and project its impact on Downtown activity.

“Council has underlined the importance of the development of these lands moving ahead as soon as possible,” says Economic Development Officer Brian Glavin. “We will promote the Request for Information across the country in a variety of media to maximize our opportunity for proposals.”

This strategy results from a visioning session Council had in mid-December.


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