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Edmonton to make changes to snow and ice strategy following critical auditor report

Global News logo Global News 2021-02-12 Sarah Ryan
a truck is parked on the side of a road: Graders get ready for more winter weather to hit Edmonton. © Global News Graders get ready for more winter weather to hit Edmonton.

Edmonton's auditor identified 12 recommendations to bring the city's snow and ice strategy back on track after an anonymous letter was mailed to city council outlining concerns with the operation.

The letter was received in February 2020. In response, council asked the auditor to review snow and ice removal.

READ MORE: Edmonton City Auditor asked to review anonymous letter listing worries about snow-clearing

Around five years ago, the city moved roads and transportation into the parks department, and the auditor found there had been more than a dozen leadership, policy and operational changes since then, leading to disorganization.

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Edmonton's administration said it accepts all of the recommendations and is working to implement them.

"I don't love getting audits that show there's a lot of issues, but I'm sure glad I can get those audits," explained Ward 1 councillor, Andrew Knack. "Because if you don't get those audits, you can't fix your mistakes."

The recommendations in the report include things like listening to employee feedback, having clearly defined policy, improving the ways in which resident complaints are managed and communicating more effectively with staff and Edmontonians.

"Understanding the need to be more in tune with what the public understands and how we communicate that understanding, in terms of what we will do, what we can do and what the resourcing and equipment allow us to do," explained the manager of parks and roads, Brian Simpson. "It's an important piece and we do need to get that right."

He admitted there was often confusion from residents around snow removal, like when neighbourhood blading would be done, for example.

"A lot of work has been done in terms of just communicating with the public in terms of when we do certain areas," Simpson said. "Even the difference between cul-de-sacs and residential. There was a lack of clarity around that and we recognize that."

Eight of the auditor's 12 recommendations are slated to be implemented by the end of this year, hopefully before the snow flies next winter. The remaining four are scheduled to be in place before the end of 2022.

Knack is optimistic the changes will improve the winter experience, both for employees and residents.

"The worst thing that can happen is nobody tells you what you're doing wrong -- and then you can't fix it," he said. "Here we've been told all of the things that are wrong - and some things are good, but most of it was challenges -- and now we know and have a clear path to fix it."

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