PoCo snow removal goes online

GPS systems attached to plows will allow residents to track progress of snow and ice clearance on city roads



Port Coquitlam is letting residents track the city’s snow and ice removal in real time.

The city is attaching GPS systems to its snow clearing vehicles so that they can be tracked online. The goal is to make residents aware of where the nearest plows are located and when they will be available. Similar systems are in place in Richmond and Surrey.

“We like to know what’s going to happen,” said Port Coquitlam Coun. Darrell Penner, council designate for public works. “People are pretty happy with that.”

Starting this winter, the real-time feed will be open to residents with information such as which roads have been maintained and cleared, Penner said.

Road conditions are a topic of concern with many residents. A recent city survey placed road conditions as the 12th category out of the 13 that city residents are satisfied with. Snow removal was the fifth most mentioned cause of that assessment.

Noelle Davidson, co-owner of Excel Martial Arts Port Coquitlam, said road clearance in the city is slow. “They take a long time to remove snow and ice,” she said.

Davidson said that having a way to monitor how the city is clearing the roads can be “super helpful” especially for driving after school.

Other residents say snow removal in Port Coquitlam is not a concern.

Port Coquitlam real estate agent Mark George said that because the city doesn’t have a lot of elevation, his clients don’t see snow clearing as a problem.

“PoCo has been pretty good when it comes to snow and ice removal and keeping the streets drivable,” George said. “When I pass from one community to the next, they’re not all as good.”

Penner said that the city has always aimed to improve it services.

“We literally have one of the best snow removal policies in Metro Vancouver,” Penner said.

Penner said the live data from the system will save the city money as it will help monitor equipment and resources. The ability to see which roads have been maintained means that trucks can avoid salting and brining a road twice. It also allows drivers to pick the best routes to minimize mileage and fuel.

“The efficiency results in a better bang for your buck,” Penner said. “And if you can improve service then that makes the customers, you know, more happy.”

Much of the rollout for the new system depends on the weather. A snow-free winter season would leave new equipment idle and would delay the calibration of the system to the following year.

Penner noted the rollout may also have to deal with dead spots in the vehicle routes or a glitch in the software’s tracking.

“It’s like, you know, installing a new Windows program, and all of a sudden things don’t work,” Penner said.

The City of Port Coquitlam did not respond to a request for an estimate of the program’s costs by the Voice deadline.

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