AK: How are Tallinn and Tartu dealing with snow removal?

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Morning after a heavy snowfall.
Morning after a heavy snowfall. Source: Minupilt.err.ee/Reet Sepp

ETV's current affairs show "AK.Nädal" took a look into the clearing of snow on the streets of Tallinn and Tartu and who might find the winter conditions favorable.

As snowfall has picked up over the last couple of weeks, the streets of Tallinn look like scenes off of Christmas cards. A common expression used to describe the conditions is "winter wonderland" - but Christmas cards and snowy fairy tales do not account for falling icicles and getting stuck in a snow pile. Is winter in the capital actually a fairy tale?

The district of Nõmme started clearing out snow four weeks ago and according to district mayor Grete Šillis, 26,000 cubic meters of snow has been moved from the streets of Nõmme. "I can compare it to an Olympic-sized pool, which has a capacity of 2,500 m3 - we have taken nearly ten of those capacities out of Nõmme," Šillis said.

Artur, a man working a snow plow in Tallinn, told "AK.Nädal" that he has spent the days working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He added that he is lucky his boss is reasonable - there is enough work for an entire day and often, roadsides are filled with cars.

Snow is also money - especially when it needs to be cleaned. But winter is far from over as Wednesday is set to be the coldest day of the winter season. Tallinn deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf (Center) pointed to how snow is cleared in Helsinki, Finland. "Helsinki has gone the way of people paying for the removal service. It depends on the size of the plot and the number of apartments in the building. The totals sum up to €30-80 a year," Klandorf said.

A saint working the streets of Tartu

While clearing snow off the sidewalks in the city of Tartu is the responsibility of the real estate manager, then locals in Tähtvere have noticed a man doing the work for them, using an ATV with a snow plow. Locals say that the mysterious snow remover has been seen daily as of late and on some days, multiple times in a single day.

"AK.Nädal" found the young man and asked him why he is doing it. "Since I acquired this machine with a plow, I thought why just clear up my yard, I ought to make others around me happy. I am coping with my boredom and I like driving the ATV," said Martin Laks, the volunteer snow remover.

Martin is not a resident of Tähtvere, but his parents live in the region. Commenting on his daily route, Laks said he tries going over the main streets in the area.

In districts, where such Samaritans do not show up, each homeowner must clear their sidewalk of snow by 7 a.m. The city of Tartu does not have any plans to clear the residents of this obligation, as in addition to clearing roads and pathways, the cost of also clearing sidewalks would cost the city three times as much as it does now.

"Everyone does their 20-50 m in front of their house, it is the most logical and reasonable solution. In general, people of Tartu care and do it. There have been different cases and the proceedings department has dealt with them. We can say that if you communicate with homeowners and remind them, 90 percent go ahead and do it. We must see with the rest," said Madis Tammeorg, specialist for Tartu's city cleaning department.

Martin Laks, the volunteer snow remover of Tähtvere, Tartu. Source: ERR


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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