The Town of Huntsville can now declare significant weather events, to limit liability and let residents know what to expect.
The declaration is reserved for when weather conditions severely affect the town’s ability to maintain roadways, with authority given to the town’s Director of Operations and Protective Services.
Steve Hernen, who is currently in the role, says the declaration will inform residents that road conditions will take longer to restore to normal, and to be careful when heading out.
“Let’s say we had a major ice storm that hit part of our community. We could tell them what roads are affected and maybe to stay off those roads if need be,” says Hernen. “If it’s a major snowfall, we could give more information as to what we’re doing– we’re cleaning the main roads, we’ll get to the secondary roads within a 24-hour period– we’d be able to tell people what’s happening.”
According to Hernen, municipalities must plow roads within a certain timeframe, determined by how the province classifies the road. While a declaration is in effect, that requirement is temporarily suspended until the event ends and service can return to normal.
“There’s a whole box of checks that we have to go through. We can’t just declare it every time it snows and we have no intent on doing that. We have to show due diligence that we’re doing everything in our power to maintain the roads,” says Hernen. “But it does provide us some defense against liability, so somebody couldn’t sue the municipality for lack of maintenance on a road [during an event].”
The new policy was approved by town councillors on Monday, during the January Regular Council meeting.
A full list of applicable weather events and criteria can be found here.