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Winter Maintenance Zones

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo wants you to have your say about Winter Maintenance Zones (WMZs). As part of the Snow and Ice Control Program, WMZs were implemented in the 2015/2016 winter season to regulate snow and ice removal and to guide other winter maintenance tasks on residential streets in Fort McMurray.

Tell us what you think about the WMZ program by completing our survey, online from April 11 to May 10, 2016, or in-person at the Spring Trade Show (April 29 to May 1, 2016) or at one of our upcoming public engagement sessions.

Municipal staff and WMZ experts will be on-hand at the Spring Trade Show and at all engagement sessions to discuss the program with you and to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Social media

While we do value feedback posted on social media, we are unable to monitor everything that is posted online due to the privacy of groups and individuals. For municipal surveys, we are unable to take comments on social media into account.

The online survey is the official tool for feedback on WMZs.

Public Engagement Sessions

Join us at one of the WMZ public engagement sessions.

Spring Trade Show – Suncor Community Leisure Centre – MacDonald Island Park:

  • April 29: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • April 30: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • May 1: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

YMCA Thickwood:

  • April 20: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Peter Pond Mall (main floor):

  • April 23: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Project Background

In 2014, Administration began a review of winter maintenance standards and practices to explore options for enhanced snow and ice control services. This review included researching winter service standards from a number of other Canadian municipalities and identified options to enhance practices in Fort McMurray.

This research identified challenges related to signage, parking, snow plowing/removal priorities and mechanisms to trigger winter maintenance. To mitigate these challenges, Administration required clarity from both Council and the public. An online survey and a number of public engagement sessions were held in 2014 and 2015 to gauge service satisfaction levels and explore options to improve winter maintenance standards.

The input from this engagement provided decision-makers at the Municipality with the public’s satisfaction levels and expectations for snow and ice control within Fort McMurray. Based on this input, Council directed Administration to implement parking restrictions that would restrict parking on urban municipal roadways one day a week in designated areas.

The result of this direction was Winter Maintenance Zones. Five Zones were created in Fort McMurray’s residential neighbourhoods to facilitate snow removal and other routine maintenance while providing consistency to residents who rely on on-street parking. In summer 2015, signage was installed along residential streets throughout Fort McMurray to outline specific weekdays and times where on-street parking would be restricted to allow crews to enter into neighbourhoods and perform winter maintenance.

The signage outlined that from Oct. 15 to April 15, one WMZ per weekday would be activated for winter maintenance on residential streets to take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Activation days varied by neighbourhood based on the Zone where they are located.

The winter of 2015/16 was the first season to implement the program in Fort McMurray and we recognize that this is a work in progress. We also recognize that residents of Fort McMurray have expressed both support and concerns regarding parking restrictions, service levels, towing and ticketing, and relaxation of the Zones.

We are now returning to the public to get further feedback on winter maintenance. Our goal is to provide residents of Fort McMurray with the information they need to provide meaningful input during this consultation period. This feedback will then be evaluated by Administration and presented to Mayor and Council for further direction on next steps and adjustments to the program if deemed necessary.

Summary of Public Engagement

A Snow and Ice Control Public Engagement Summary includes presentations to Council, a history of engagement activities and the Snow and Ice Control Survey Report.

Next Steps

For one day a week, we asked you not to park on the street. Now we want to hear from you.

From April 11 – May 10, 2016, the online survey will be available for residents to provide feedback on the WMZ program. In addition, the municipality will be hosting public engagement sessions and attending the Spring Trade Show where the survey can also be filled out in-person.

The information gathered will be used to produce a report that will compile the results of the survey and additional feedback received. Once completed, Administration will produce a summary report of the findings. This will be shared with the public and Mayor and Council. Ultimately, Council will make any final decisions related to WMZs.

We’re raising winter maintenance standards in Fort McMurray’s residential areas

Latest News

March 28: Maintenance Zones Relaxed

Policy Documents

Urban Ice and Snow Control Policy
Council approved an Urban Snow and Ice Control Policy (PRL – 150) at its Jan. 12, 2016 meeting.

Look for the Signs

Worker installs winter maintenance signage

A worker installs winter maintenance signage.

Towing and Impound Information

Vehicles parked in an active Winter Maintenance Zone will be ticketed and/or towed to the impound yard (see location map below). Parking violation fines as well as towing and storage fees are the responsibility of the vehicle owner.

Mobster Mechanical, an independent third-party company, will be performing towing services for Winter Maintenance Zones.

Parking violation fines: $120, which can be paid by visiting RMWB cashiers at the Jubilee Building (9909 Franklin Avenue) or Timberlea Landing Building (309 Powder Drive) Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Towing fees: $100 for cars, SUVs and pickups (quarter tons and half tons); $130 per hour for oversized vehicles such as one tons, tractor trailers/big rigs.

Storage fees: $30 per vehicle per day. Owners of towed vehicles will be charged $30 per vehicle per day starting on the day the vehicle is impounded. An additional $30 charge will be added at 7 a.m. each day until the vehicle is picked up.

Payment for towing and storage can be made through Mobster Mechanical.

Mobster Mechanical contact information:
Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Weekends & Holidays: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Phone: 780-838-9595
Email: Towing@mobstermechanical.com

Maps

Winter Maintenance Impound Yard:

Map: Winter Maintenance Impound Yard

[The map above as a printable download.]

Winter Maintenance Zones overview:

Map: Winter Maintenance Zones

Winter Operations Manual:

Winter Operations Book Thumbnail

Winter Operations Manual (2015/2016)

Winter maintenance signage

After engaging the community on a number of occasions, you told us that the old temporary parking restrictions for winter maintenance were confusing and ineffective. We heard you loud and clear!

To fix this problem we will be implementing a Winter Maintenance Zone program in Fort McMurray. All residential neighborhoods have been divided into five Winter Maintenance Zones, one for each weekday. From Oct. 15 to April 15, your neighborhood’s Zone will be active on the same weekday, every week. On the day that your Zone is active, Public Works road crews will plow the streets, clear any snow we place on your sidewalks and perform other routine maintenance. To assist our road crews, on-street parking will not be available in your Zone on the day that it is active.

Winter Maintenance Zones FAQ

Q: I heard that Council is reviewing a new enhanced residential snow-clearing policy. When will it take effect?

A: Council approved an updated Urban Snow and Ice Control Policy (PRL – 150) on Jan. 12, 2016.

The purpose of the Urban Snow and Ice Control Policy is to set winter snow and ice control standards to ensure that municipal roads and sidewalks are maintained to reduce hazards and economic loss, prioritize safe access to emergency vehicles and transit, and provide guidelines for management and operating personnel in the handling of winter maintenance operations.

The new policy is based on the previous policy that was adopted in 2010. Updates to the new policy include establishing weekly residential plowing on a designated day – Winter Maintenance Zones – and enhancing priorities for sidewalk snow removal along major routes for students, and along Primary and Secondary Routes.

This new policy for Urban Snow and Ice Control is the culmination of the Municipality’s commitment to residents to provide enhanced winter maintenance and safer driving conditions in the winter season.

Q: What’s the rationale for creating winter maintenance zones?

A: Through the public engagement process, we asked the community for feedback online and at events held throughout Fort McMurray between October 2014 and November 2014, and in May 2015, to get their input for improving winter maintenance standards and services. One common theme was that residents were in favour of increased residential area plowing, combined with on-street parking restrictions to allow for the improved snow and ice control work.

Q: How will Winter Maintenance Zones be an improvement from past years?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones will allow city road crews to provide regular, timely service in all of Fort McMurray’s residential neighborhoods. By clearing the roads regularly, we will be able to maintain road access to your homes for emergency vehicles and offer a higher level of safety for drivers.

Q: Do Winter Maintenance Zones affect every street in Fort McMurray?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones will only affect Fort McMurray’s residential streets. Residential streets include lightly trafficked streets such as Birch Road, Diefenbaker Drive, and Hillcrest Drive. Signage has been installed along all residential streets to indicate the day when each Winter Maintenance Zone will be in effect.

Snow plows regularly clear a number of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary routes throughout Fort McMurray. Winter Maintenance Zones do not affect Primary, Secondary or Tertiary routes. These routes are prioritized based on traffic volume, usage and location within the transportation system. These routes are maintained more than once a week as appropriate and do not apply to the Winter Maintenance Zone schedule.

On-street parking may be permitted along Primary, Secondary and Tertiary routes. Check for signage along these routes to see if parking is permitted before parking your vehicle, as other parking restrictions may apply. Locate residential streets and Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary routes by viewing the Winter Operations Manual.

Q: When will my Winter Maintenance Zone be active for routine winter maintenance?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones come into effect every year on Oct. 15 and are taken out of service on April 15 of the following year. All routine winter maintenance will be performed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day when your Zone is active, subject to extreme weather and/or mechanical failure.

Q: How do I know when my Zone is active?

A: There are five Winter Maintenance Zones, one for each weekday. Your Zone will be active for the same weekday every week from Oct. 15 – April. 15 from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Check the signage posted along your street, use our Find Your Zone search tool or check the maps in the Winter Operations Manual.

Q: What if there is no snow? Can I park in my Zone when it is activated but there is no snow to clear?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones will activate on their scheduled day and time even if there is no snow. Road crews perform other routine maintenance besides snow clearing to keep your streets safe and clear throughout winter. So even when there is no snow, crews will still be working in your neighbourhood.

On some rare occasions Winter Maintenance Zones may be relaxed if maintenance isn’t needed. By relaxing the Zone parking restrictions, you will be able to park on your street as you normally have. This will be a rare case, but we’re committed to sharing information and letting residents know in advance if your Winter Maintenance Zone will be relaxed.

Follow us on social media or on our main webpage for regular updates.

Q: If the snowplow has already made its pass through my neighbourhood, is on-street parking permitted within the restricted times from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.?

A: No. When your zone is active, on-street parking is not permitted during the hours posted on signage throughout your neighbourhood (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Further maintenance may be required other than street plowing or sidewalk clearing. The signage is also intended to provide consistency for residents who rely on on-street parking.

Q: I rely on on-street parking. What are my other options?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones will only be active on one weekday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Since neighbourhoods have different activation dates, you’ll be able to make advance arrangements to move your vehicles if necessary. Parking alternatives include driveways, garages, or even try sharing a parking space with a neighbour or friend.

Additional parking can be found in Public Parking Lots around Fort McMurray. Residents are reminded to check signage in public parking lots, and that overnight parking is not permitted.

On-street parking may be available along Primary, Secondary and Tertiary routes when your Winter Maintenance Zone is active. Snow plows regularly clear a number of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary routes throughout Fort McMurray. Winter Maintenance Zones do not apply to these routes, and there may be some on-street parking available along Primary routes (red), Secondary routes (blue) and Tertiary routes (green). Check out our Winter Operations Manual to locate the routes in your neighbourhood.

Watch for signage along Secondary and Tertiary routes, as other parking restrictions may apply.

Q: What’s the penalty for on-street parking while my Winter Maintenance Zone is active?

A: Residents are responsible for complying with parking regulation as set out in the Roads and Transportation Bylaw No. 02/079. Vehicles parked in an active Winter Maintenance Zone could be ticketed and/or towed to an impound yard. Parking tickets and towing fees are the responsibility of the vehicle owner.

Q: My vehicle has been towed from an active Winter Maintenance Zone. Where is my vehicle and how much will it cost to retrieve it?

A: The fine for a Notice of Violation is $120 for parking in an active Winter Maintenance Zone. In addition, vehicles will be towed to an impound lot located by the Water Treatment Plant off Silin Forest Road located on the west side of the Athabasca Bridge.

Mobster Mechanical, an independent third-party company, will be performing towing services for Winter Maintenance Zones. The Municipality will not be performing this function. Residents needing information about a towed vehicle can contact Mobster Mechanical directly.

Mobster Mechanical contact information:

Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Weekends & Holidays: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Phone: 780-838-9595
Email: Towing@mobstermechanical.com

Q: Can I park in my alleyway when my Winter Maintenance Zone is active?

A: No, you cannot. As per our Roads and Transportation Bylaw No. 02/079, parking in alleyways is not permitted in order to provide access for emergency response vehicles.

Q: Will Winter Maintenance Zones affect on-street parking when I take my kids to school?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones apply to residential streets only. Schools are located along Secondary routes, and Winter Maintenance Zones do not apply in these areas. Check out the Winter Operations Manual to locate our priority routes in comparison to residential streets.

Q: Do Winter Maintenance Zones apply to both sides of the street?

A: Yes they do. Vehicles need to be clear from both sides of the street to allow our maintenance equipment to enter and safely clear the entire street.

Q: Why do road crews leave a windrow at the end of my driveway?

A: When crews perform snow plowing, snow is plowed to the right-hand side to clear roads and keep them safe. With more regular residential plowing activities during the Winter Maintenance Zone program, residents may notice small windrows accumulating along the sides of roads and at the end of their driveway. Since road crews will be plowing weekly, we don’t anticipate large accumulations of snow.

It has always been residents’ responsibility to clear snow from their driveways, including the windrow at the end of their driveway. This approach has been modelled on best-practices from other municipalities in Alberta.

Q: What part do I play in snow and ice clearing?

A: Residents are still responsible to clear their sidewalks in accordance with Roads and Transportation Bylaw No. 02/079. City road crews will clear any snow that they place on sidewalks during winter maintenance.

Residents are also responsible to clear snow from their driveways, including the windrow at the end of their driveway. This approach has been modelled on best-practices from other municipalities in Alberta.

Q: Will you be putting snow on my front lawn while plowing streets? Could this kill my grass?

A: The reality of a weekly plowing program is that some snow will be pushed up on to lawns and municipal right-of-ways to clear a path for traffic. This is in line with best practices of other Alberta municipalities and is a necessary part of the solution. When feasible, available crews will come in to remove this accumulated snow.

With regular lawn maintenance in the spring, your lawn should come back as green as ever.

Q: I rent a basement suite, where am I supposed to park?

A: Parking requirements for basement suites follow the guidelines outlined in the Land Use Bylaw under sections 53 and 130.9. The parking requirements for a legally permitted basement suite are one (1) on-site stall for each bedroom to a maximum of two (2) on-site stalls. The existing residence requires two (2) on-site parking stalls. Any parking for a basement suite is in addition to the parking requirements for the existing residence.

Q: I live in a condo. How do Winter Maintenance Zones apply to me?

A: Condo corporations are responsible for snow and ice control on their respective properties. However, Winter Maintenance Zones apply to all residents since condo owners could still be affected if parked on the street while visiting friends or family, or out doing regular activities.

Q: Whom can I contact about winter maintenance?

A: You can email us at streets.resource@rmwb.ca, call the Roads Hotline 780-743-7859, or call the Pulse: Wood Buffalo Call Line at 780-743-7000.

Q: I am a senior and need assistance clearing snow from my driveway. What can I do?

A: The Snow Angels Program, a volunteer service, is available for seniors 65 years and older. To register, contact Nicole Martyn-Dickinson by calling at 780-743-7917 or emailing nicole.martyn-dickinson@rmwb.ca

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