Remove the Snow Already: We don't want any more accidents

Snow is a part of PEI life, regardless, there are steps that could be taken to improve the snow removal process on the island.

Snow fall is expected on PEI, and given our small size we don't possess the funds necessary to deal with it appropriately compared to larger cities, and other Canadian provinces. At the moment the City of Charlottetown is tasked with clearing snow from streets, salting, and de-icing which leads to a constrained budget in terms of money, and time. Is there a better way to tackle how the city of Charlottetown can improve its efficiency of snow removal within the city?

Clifford Lee, Mayor of Charlottetown, said, ""There's nobody would say the snow removal in 2014-15 was handled great. Cause it wasn't. We recognize that, there were some days where you really were challenged to keep the streets open for emergency vehicles." - CBC PEI

Who does this issue affect?

After a snowfall, snow often piles up and blocks access to the streets. The Snow removal industry in Charlottetown has a direct effect on citizens primarily, but also affects snow plow drivers, and the emergency response teams. Each of these parties are inconvenienced by the length of time needed to clear the snow. The City of Charlottetown has to provide safe and easy access for people living in Charlottetown.

  • For the safety of residents, it is essential that the City of Charlottetown start to remove snow as soon as possible. When roads, driveways, or walkways are slippery and icy, it is more likely to cause accidents. Ice buildup on pavement usually makes street conditions a rough ride in some areas. Promptly removing snow is important for reducing the likelihood of slips and falls.
  • Businesses are affected by snow conditions. The longer the customers can’t get to the retail business, the more money the owners will lose. Snow piles need to be cleared in time in order for people to open their business.
  • The police, fire department, and emergency medical services can’t operate services in appropriate response times if the snow on the roads is not removed.

Why is this important?

Although snow is a natural occurrence from Mother Nature, it's been hitting Charlottetown really hard the past few years. We might not be able to control how much snow comes in a winter season, but we can control what happens with the snow once it builds up to excessive heights.

I wonder if he can see coming traffic?

The natural phenomenon know as snow is formed when temperatures are low and there is moisture in the form of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. When these tiny ice crystals collide they stick together in clouds to become snowflakes. If enough ice crystals stick together, they'll become heavy enough to fall to the ground.

Accidents in the winter time are getting ridiculous, the city is lacking the motivation to make the city look perfect. For instance during some storms the snow is blown into Mount Everest sized banks which cause the visibility of drivers to be at zero. If they take the lunge there's a 50/50 shot that there will be a car on the other side about to strike them.


There are a few short term solutions to removing snow and doing so faster. Short term solutions include:

1) Increasing the snow removal budget- This is not an ideal solution due to the fact that the City of Charlottetown already has problems meeting and maintaining their budget requirements and throwing more money at snow removal does nothing for them.

2) Snow Melters- with cost in mind this option i is also far too expensive for the city to adopt unless we can get a raise in the budget.

3) Contracting out to private companies- getting a private company to do most of the work around the city while having the City continue to conduct a minimal amount of the snow removal.

Increasing the Budget

To improve the efficiency of snow removal, the City of Charlottetown should increase the budget on snow removal equipment and snow clearing operators. The City of Charlottetown has to consider the equipment’s efficiency and ability to clear the snow.

“The snowfall has caused a lot of wear and tear to machinery and the fleet needs to be updated,” said Terry Bernard, chair of the public works committee.

In 2015, the chair of Charlottetown's public works committee put forward a motion to increase the budget by $500,000 to buy some new equipment. Terry said, "The whole idea is to improve efficiency and at some point you've always got to be improving your equipment." Also, they were looking at bringing in newer equipment and heavier equipment to do the contract areas than what they had.

Operators need easy-to-use equipment to increase the speed of snow clearing. An efficient snow pusher or snow plow helps operators avoid long hours. “Improvements are there, but we are still looking to make more improvements,” said Terry Bernard. As a result, it is necessary that the City of Charlottetown update the equipment on a regular basis.

In addition to the need of newer equipment, more snow removal operators are also required. Though everyone wants the snow removal to get started soon after the snowfall, operators can’t begin to work until the visibility improves. As a result, in order to clear heavy snow within a short amount of time, hiring more temporary operators to increase services is a way. The City of Charlottetown can hire a few temporary operators in the fall to provide time to train. When there is a severe snow condition, these experienced operators can help out in time.

Heavy snowfalls restricts all Islanders from students, to teachers, to workers, to emergency response persons.

Snow Melters

If we were to get the increase in the budget as requested some the funds should go towards snow melters for those heavy snow storms. Charlottetown currently has an agreement that lasts through 2022, back in 2015 this what the city had to say in regards to the agreement “Council has approved a $500,000 increase to this winter's snow-clearing budget, some of that going to new equipment and some to pricier contracts said Johnson." If they’re willing to increase it once they should be able to increase it again. Many cities around the United States, and Canada use snow melters as an alternative, it’s basically a large generator-powered machine that uses hot water to melt 30-150 tonnes of snow an hour. The melted water is often poured into nearby storm drains - preventing it from refreezing. But one machine costs more than $200,000 and uses about 60 gallons of diesel fuel an hour - so they are best used as a last resort if dumping space is hard to find. One city employs special “snow chutes’’ that feed melted snow to a processing plant. Other cities, like Buffalo and Toronto, see steep snowbanks as a simple fact of life in cold climates and cite the high expense of collecting and disposing of snow on a large scale. The Melting vs. Hauling debate has been around, and the typical snow removal process requires allowing areas for snow piles or hauling snow offsite. Why not haul the snow to a snow melter instead of a parking lot, where businesses will loose parking places for potential customers.

Contract out to Private Companies

Many cities and provinces around Canada have contracted out their snow removal services to private companies. This decision has proven to be very positive for those cities. However the main issue was safety concerns which was mitigated by the province of Ontario in particular who ended up working into the contract expectations with regard to safety measures, equipment inspections, and training to be delivered to all employees. Another city, Peterborough, decided to split up snow removal responsibilities between the city and private contractors. The city remained responsible for 20% of the snow, possibly on secondary streets, while the private company accounted for the other 80% of the snow. The two worked together in the best interest of the city with the private company earning a large contract and still allowing city workers to keep their jobs.

Recommended Solution for Charlottetown

Our recommended solution for Charlottetown is to learn from what both Ontario and Peterborough did. Contract the snow removal out to an external company but include into the contract expectations for safety inspections and training programs. This will ensure that the company operates in a safe manner. In addition, the city will still remain responsible for a portion of the snow removal, roughly 30%, so there is not a large strain on either the company or the city. With this recommendation in mind we want to mitigate risks of only one company taking control of the snow removal so the contract will be given to a few snow removal companies who will work together to remove the snow until one company has enough resources to handle the entire contract by themselves.

Charlottetown is located in a climate that can experience winter weather for a long time.

What Can We Do to Help?

Charlottetown is located in a climate that can experience winter weather for a long time. While we demand that the City of Charlottetown improve the efficiency of snow removal, we should also be aware of winter conditions and take necessary precautions when traveling.

Robert Watts, a plow operator in Charlottetown, mentioned that he would enjoy his job even more if motorists would be a little more cautious driving in poor weather. He also said, “They don’t give you much room. They are zigzagging. They don’t give you a break.” Too many motorists try to rush in to work, failing to offer plow operators much respect.

To help the operations run smoothly, we have to be patient and keep a safe distance behind working snow plows. Besides, we do not drive beside or pass a snow plow. For road safety operations, we residents should beware of winter parking restrictions. We need to move the vehicles when snow clearing, plowing, or de-icing may be taking place.

In winter conditions, we can collaborate with the City of Charlottetown to help the city function normally. As residents in Charlottetown, we can help make the snow removal process safer for everyone.

To Learn More

To learn more about the process of snow removal in the City of Charlottetown visit the City's website or use the link below.


Brown, Taylor. How do US cities get rid of snow? 9 February 2015. WEB. 26 March 2017.

Davidson, Terry. Province Sticks with Snow Removal Companies. Toronto Sun. 26 June, 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

Know About Snow. City of Charlottetown. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

Kovach, Joelle. Councillors to Consider Contracting out Snow Removal. The Peterborough Examiner. 28 July, 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

CBC News. Charlottetown snow removal should be better, says mayor. 31 December 2015. WEB. 25 March 2017.


Created with images by OregonDOT - "Oregon DOT clears snow on Hwy 20"

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