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Winter Maintenance Zones FAQs

Q: Why is my Winter Maintenance Zone on a different day this year?

A: To make plowing operations more efficient, we’ve changed the Monday and Tuesday Zones to be grouped geographically. The neighbourhoods affected by this change are Beacon Hill, Prairie Creek, Abasand, Downtown (lower townsite), Thickwood and Wood Buffalo.

For example, half of Beacon Hill was in the Monday Zone last year, and the other half was in the Tuesday Zone. For the 2017-2018 season, all Beacon Hill residents will now be in the Monday Zone.

Type your address into the Know Your Zone tool to learn if your Zone has changed. Stickers will also be placed on the no-parking signs in affected neighbourhoods.

Q: Why did you split each Zone into Subzones?

A: There may be times when it is not necessary to send a plow through an entire Winter Maintenance Zone. If your subzone is relaxed, plows will be operating through other parts of your Zone, but there will be no ticketing or towing on your street.

Check the maps on this page or use the Know Your Zone tool so you know what your Zone and subzone are.

Q: How will you tell us when our zone or subzone is relaxed?

A: Our goal is to inform the public of relaxed zones or subzones at least 24 hours in advance. Notification will be provided at least 48 hours prior to re-activation. You can find this information on our webpage, on neighbourhood signage, or by calling PULSE at 780-743-7000.

Q: What day does the Winter Maintenance Zone program start this year (2017)?

A: Signage posted around Fort McMurray outlines a time frame of Oct. 15 to April 15. This year, the program is scheduled to start on Monday, Oct. 16, because Oct. 15 falls on a Sunday and the WMZ program is only in effect during weekdays.

Should the WMZ program run its full course, it will end on Friday, April 13, pending weather conditions.

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: Residents should always plan for WMZs to be active during the time frame posted on signage along residential streets throughout Fort McMurray, however, we will be relaxing zones if less than approximately 5 cm of snow has fallen or has accumulated as snowpack in the centre of the street. Municipal staff will determine if this threshold has been met.

You can stay up-to-date on whether your zone or subzone is relaxed by visiting this website or calling PULSE at 780-743-7000.

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

A: Grouping the Monday and Tuesday Zones geographically for the 2017-2018 season and creating subzones will allow our plow operators to work more efficiently.

Q: Do Winter Maintenance Zones apply to me?

A: Winter Maintenance Zones apply to Fort McMurray’s residential streets. Residential streets include lightly trafficked streets such as Birch Road, Diefenbaker Drive, and Hillcrest Drive. Signage indicates when your street’s Winter Maintenance Zone is in effect. Check signage along your street to know your zone.

Snow plows regularly clear a number of Primary and Secondary routes throughout Fort McMurray. Winter Maintenance Zones do not apply to Primary or Secondary 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 or Secondary 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 or Secondary routes by viewing the Winter Operations Manual.

Although condos and private property are not directly affected by Winter Maintenance Zones – condo corporations and private owners are responsible for their respective properties – on-street parking restrictions for the program apply to all residents since they may be affected if parked on the street while visiting friends or family, or out doing regular activities.

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

A: Residents should always plan for their zone to be active on its designated day. 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 Know Your Zone tool or check the maps on this webpage to find your Zone and the weekday when on-street parking restrictions are active in your neighbourhood.

If WMZs were relaxed beforehand, the municipality must give 48 hours of notice that the zones will be activating again. Zones will activate when approximately 5 cm of snow has fallen or accumulated as snowpack on the street. Stay up to date by checking our website or calling PULSE at 780-743-7000. 

Q: How will I know if my Zone has been relaxed?

A: Should Winter Maintenance Zones or subzones be relaxed, announcements will be made and updates will be posted on our website to inform residents. In addition, residents are encouraged to monitor electronic variable signage throughout Fort McMurray. If you are unsure, call the PULSE line 24/7 at 780-743-7000.

Q: Are Winter Maintenance Zones relaxed for holidays?

A: WMZs will be relaxed during the Christmas holiday season from Dec. 24 - Jan. 1, but they will NOT be relaxed during any other holidays that fall on a weekday between Oct. 15 and April 15.

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.

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., therefore 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 and Secondary routes when your Winter Maintenance Zone is active. Snow plows regularly clear a number of Primary and Secondary 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 and Secondary routes. View the maps on this webpage to locate the routes in your neighbourhood.

Other parking restrictions may apply along these routes, so watch for any posted signage.

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.

An independent third-party company will be performing towing services for Winter Maintenance Zones. The Municipality will not be performing this function.

Q: What happens to the money collected from ticketing and towing/impounding vehicles?

A: Ticketing revenue associated to bylaw operations and violation tickets issued are collected through the Municipal Law Enforcement. Funds from ticketing revenue are returned to the Municipality’s general revenue, which are then used to support municipal programs.

An independent third-party company will perform towing/impound services for Winter Maintenance Zones. The Municipality does not perform this function and therefore does not generate revenue from towing/impound services.

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

A: No. 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. View the maps on this page to locate our priority routes in comparison to residential streets.

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

A: Yes. 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: I have an RV/mobile home. Do on-street parking restrictions apply to me too?

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 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.

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.

Residents are encouraged to clear snow from their driveway a short time after snowfall or road maintenance. As we live in a northern community, sub-zero temperatures are common and can make the snow harder to clear as the temperatures drop.

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. Crews will clear any snow that they place on sidewalks during winter maintenance operations.

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: If any vehicles are remaining on my street when my zone is active, how will that affect maintenance?

A: As our equipment is quite large, a lot of space is needed to get into residential streets and perform maintenance. Even one or two vehicles left along the street could cause delays and create challenges for maintaining the entire zone on its given weekday. Some streets are narrower than others, and even the smallest vehicle can completely block maintenance equipment from entering and performing their work.

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

A: Maintenance crews strive to only place snow on the curb of the road, however, 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: If you rely on on-street parking, you will need to arrange for alternative parking when your Zone is active. Our website lists some potential options for parking alternatives.

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: 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, fill out the registration form online or send an email to Snowangels@rmwb.ca for more information.

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 PULSE at 780-743-7000.

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