The city’s website page Winter Snow and Ice Management states: “Nelson’s snow management plan works to ensure safe routes for motorists and pedestrians.” Yet, it doesn’t include any precise mandates for time frames. In fact, the only commitments to snow removal in our Traffic Bylaw (# 3156, Sec 73) is that residents and business owners are expected to clear sidewalks by 11 a.m. and we should move our cars every other day.
If that was easy enough to implement why aren’t there similar parameters for Public Works? Instead, we endure weeks, or sometimes months where pedestrians are expected to share icy streets with passing cars, since snowplows have covered sidewalks making them next to impossible for residents to clear off. To make matters worse, big piles of snow make streets narrower and narrower for longer duration. And, when will they sand, exactly? After a bus has slid backwards and has to radio Public Works? I hope I never witness that again.
The Community Charter of B.C. states in Section 7 (b): “The purposes of a municipality include providing for services, laws and other matters for community benefit.” Further sections of the Charter make clear that a council has the authority to step in if services are deteriorating and to set different standards. Section 147 (b) defines a CAO’s purpose, in part, is “ensuring that the policies, programs, and other directions of the council are implemented.” But how can a CAO ensure that council’s mandates are implemented when there are no written resolutions, voted in by council?
Council must fulfill their duties pursuant to the Charter and set policies and standards for services, with help from the CAO, to be achieved by Public Works. If their policy is to not spend a nickel more than $500,000 on snow removal and leave messy roads for two weeks, they should vote on it, and put the policy in writing. Or, put more funds into snow removal, have time lines in place, vote on it and put it in writing. That’s what accountability is about and that’s why they’re elected.