If "Feasible", City Snow Response May Include Website Updates on Plow Progress

City Hall isn’t able to firmly commit to updating it’s website with plow progress during snow events, nor is it able to provide the public with information about where snowplows are during snow events.
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City staff are clarifying that the report’s statement

“a static web site event response status update may be feasible and may provide useful information to residents confirming the type of activation underway and the status of
its implementation. If proven beneficial to residents, the static event response reporting initiative may be expanded to include non- winter weather event response activities (i.e. major wind or
rain storms) relative to impacts to city services.”

Refers solely to updates about plow locations and progress, and not the City’s overall communications during storm events.
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That’s the conclusion of a overdue report from the City’s Public Works Operation Director Bryan Shynal.

2012/13 – Snow Clearing Fiasco

Shynal was directed by City Council in March to report on how to implement both a better communications plan for snow events and publicly viewable GPS tracking of snow plowing equipment.

This followed a winter during which Hamilton’s snow plowing operations were significantly below expectations.

Shynal stood in front of Council apologizing and promising to do better.

Councillors were upset, and vented at senior Public Works staff the during a tense Public Works Committee meeting in mid-January.

People were waiting over 30 minutes to call in reports of non-cleared streets because the City only takes reports by phone to their call centre. City Councillors were forced to use the same phone line to try and reach staff to forward concerns.

(Councillors now have cell numbers for senior snow clearing staff)

Council: Where’s the Report?

In early November, City Councillors asked where the report was. Senior staff did not have a direct answer to the question. Council directed senior staff to return with the report in the first week of December.

Shynal submitted a five page report that states staff are not able to implement the system.

Based upon “anecdotal feedback”, City Staff Conclude Citizens Not Interested in Snow Plow Info

He found that citizens are not interested in the kind of information other cities provide on snow plow locations during snow events:

“Anecdotal feedback from residents indicate that the location of the sand/salting snow plowing unit is not information they are interested in”

Public Works did not answer questions on what “anecdotal feedback” means or how it was collected.

Staff Say if “feasible” Website will be Updated

Shynal writes that instead of the updating snow plow information automatically, “a static web site event response status update may be feasible”.