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Complaints pile up with snow

A City of Salmon Arm snowplow turns off Hudson Avenue and onto Shuswap Street, moving snow from the road following heavy snowfall Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Feb. 9. - Lachlan Labere
A City of Salmon Arm snowplow turns off Hudson Avenue and onto Shuswap Street, moving snow from the road following heavy snowfall Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Feb. 9.
— image credit: Lachlan Labere

Salmon Arm dodged a big bullet with the weather, but there is still a lot of cleaning up to do.

And that often turns into a mountain of complaints for city halls.

It is a recurring story played out following winter storms.

And while he is sympathetic, Salmon Arm’s Director of Engineering and Public Works Rob Nieuwenhuizen says staff are working full tilt,following a routine based on priority major roads, arterial and collector roads first.

“(That’s) typically the roads buses drive down or ones emergency vehicles need to get through to subdivisions,” Nieuwenhuizen says, noting the biggest challenge this year is the timing of the snow events, which have occurred on weekends.

The city has 12 staff members that work in the roads department on three different shifts, a morning one, and evening one during the week with another one to provide coverage on Saturdays.

“From Monday to Saturday, we have staff coverage; that’s not to say we don’t we have a standby crew,” he says, pointing out the Saturday crew can call for more staff. “We never have trouble having people come in because it’s overtime, but we don’t clear residential sub-divisions when we’re paying overtime.”

Crews begin clearing snow at 5 a.m. and, after the main roads are cleared, they clean up the downtown core, sometimes just pushing snow out of the way until it can be trucked out to snow dumps at the old Minos site, near Bill’s Bottles or the Quonset hut at the west end of town.

Trucking the snow from the downtown core is typically done at night and usually by contractors hired by the city.

After the main roads and downtown core have been cleared, crews head to some of the problematic sub-division streets, Nieuwenhuizen says.

the city has 12 to 14 pieces of equipment, 12 roads staff and six parks department staff to clean all the roads within city limits, something that can take up to one week.

Contractors are hire by the city to clear the airport and Shaw Centre and rec centre parking lots.

While the city is well within this year’s snow removal budget of $740,000, having spent approximately $300,000 so far, Niewenhuizen says there has been more snow already than normally falls in February and there’s still next October, November and December to factor in to the equation.

“We’re not doing so bad for now,” he says.

 

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