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Richmond Hill considers adding GPS tracking to plows
Nov. 9, 2016
By Kim Zarzour

It’s coming.

Maybe not this week, and maybe not the next, but snow is on the way - most likely, based on previous years, by the third week of November.

And with the snow, it seems, come snowplow complaints.

Every winter, as residents stumble and shovel through the white stuff, more than a few find flaws in the way their municipality is clearing the way, wanting to know where the plows are and why they always seem to be clearing someone else’s street.

Now it looks like Richmond Hill will offer a new tool to residents who want to keep track of the plows.

The “Find My Plow” app is part of a new winter maintenance system that could be launched as early as next month.

It will use a GPS tracking system to provide real-time information on where the plows are clearing snow.

“It’s just another tool residents will have at their disposal,” said Grant Taylor, the town’s director of public works operations.

The town is also planning to use the new technology to reveal more detailed information about snowplowing activities to ensure efficiency in the winter operations, such as verifying when a snowplow blade is engaged, location and speed of the equipment, whether the amount of salt being dispersed is appropriate, who the plow operator is and if the truck is being used safely.

Councillors agreed this week at committee of the whole to budget $985,310 - $438,000 for the first year and $136,000 each year for monitoring over next four years.

The town is piggybacking onto the Region of York, which is also adding the technology.

The Find My Plow app is a small part of the overall investment, Taylor said, and some details still need to be worked out.

The town begins its snow clearing with primary roads and then works toward secondary residential roads, Taylor said, so just because it looks like the plow is close to your house, it doesn’t mean it will be plowing your street next.