311 found with nearly 1,500 back lane service requests from Winnipeggers since March 12

The long and slow spring melt is underway, but Winnipeg residents want the city to step up and provide better snow-clearing service in back lanes.

Since March 12, 311 has received 1,476 requests for service related to Winnipeg’s approximately 930 kilometers of back lanes, a city spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News on Monday.

The city says it’s working on plowing the back lanes in an effort to improve drainage and driving conditions.

Tony Kusiak worked for the city for 36 years, and said the back lanes are dreadful.

He lives in an area where there are no back lanes, but when he comes to volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity on Aikins Street, between Pritchard and Manitoba avenues, the ruts are horrendous.

“You can’t get out. I feel bad for the people,” Kusiak said. “They actually had plows going through and they probably made big windrows by everybody’s garage, so I’m sure they can’t even move.

“But I feel sorry for anybody in these places trying to get out of a garage. It would be terrible.”

Tony Kusiak, a former City of Winnipeg employee, says the city’s hands are tied trying to deal with nearly 1,500 back lane service requests since March 12. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Kusiak drives a truck but admits he has got caught up in some of the ruts, and has also slid sideways a few times.

The city is doing what it can, but it’s in a difficult spot, he says.

“The city’s got their hands tied. You know what, you can only do so much,” he said. “Where do you push that stuff? There’s so much snow.”

North End back lanes neglected: residents

Some North End residents feel as if the city is neglecting their back lanes almost entirely.

Ed Tulloch recently saw a vehicle stuck in a back lane that required six people to get it out of ruts and on its way.

Wanda Lawrence, left, and Ed Tulloch say back lane snow removal in the North End of Winnipeg has barely been noticeable this winter. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“The back lanes in the North End are very rarely plowed,” he said. “You get cars stuck everywhere.”

Tulloch doesn’t think he has seen plows come down some back lanes in the area, and says his brother, who also lives in the North End, celebrated the other day after seeing a city plow come by his street for just the second time since the snow started falling last fall.

He has only fallen on ice a handful of times this winter, as has Wanda Lawrence, who also suffered a sprained ankle tripping over ice a few years ago.

Tulloch believes this situation could have been made less tenuous if the city had more workers, or if snow had been cleared more frequently from back lanes.

A Winnipeg man chips away at ice in a Riverview back lane on Monday. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Tiger Belanger also lives in the North End. He said the city’s sub-par snow-clearing in back lanes has affected the routes he walks. This includes being forced to walk on streets instead of back lanes or sidewalks.

“I don’t like it at all because it looks disgusting,” Belanger said.

In addition to back lanes, the city says its focus is also centered on clearing trouble spots on residential streets to ensure they are passable, while continuing to reduce high snow piles in an effort to improve sightlines for pedestrians and motorists alike.

Every year at this time crews are very busy and engaged in a wide range of spring time activities to address conditions that result from temperature fluctuating above and below zero, the city added.

Residents can request snow removal, and report a frozen catch basin by accessing online forms.

WATCH | Winnipeg back lanes full of ice ruts and water:

Winnipeg back lanes full of ice ruts and water

Some residents are cleaning the lanes themselves rather than waiting for city crews. 1:30

Leave a Reply