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Staff shortages have delayed city's street sweeping progress

Complaints from residents about night-time sweeping have also played a role; Staff say program will be completed by first week of June
street sweeping orillia
The city's budget committee agreed to hire contract workers to help expedite the cleaning of city streets, but staff shortages have slowed down the program this spring.

If the streets and sidewalks in your neighbourhood seem more dusty and sandy than usual, you may not be imagining things.

This year’s municipal spring cleaning program is behind schedule due to “significant staffing challenges” and other issues.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts for the city as this spring has been dry and warm, notes a memo from city staff circulated to city councillors a few days ago.

The memo notes there “has been a significant number of concerns brought forward regarding sand and dust conditions” by residents.

Ironically, staff requested - and received - more funding this year to “expedite the sweeping through contracted services.” 

The contracted sweepers have now completed the north ward of the city and have almost completed the west ward, noted the memo. 

The contractor, however, is “having significant staffing challenges and (is) struggling to obtain/maintain qualified staff to operate equipment.” 

That’s not the only challenge. Staff planned to have the sweeping conducted both night and day, with multiple contracted crews to expedite the sweeping. 

“Unfortunately, the night operations led to significant complaints from residents due to noise,” notes the memo. 

The noise issues, combined with the contractor’s staff shortages, have created a lag in the original plan for completion of all roads by May 15. 

In an effort to accelerate the sweeping program, unionized city staff were recently added to the sweeping mission and streets in the south ward are being completed now during the day and staff are completing parking lots overnight. 

Staff anticipate the road sweeping will be completed by the end of May or first week of June.

Sidewalk sweeping, which is a new program for the city this year, will begin this week. 

As this is a new program, staff will be reviewing and implementing efficiencies as they progress, notes the memo, which says a “completion date for this program is not known” at this time.