Snow and Ice Control FAQ’s
Snow clearing vehicles have preset areas they are required to maintain during snowfalls. These areas are cleared according to the following priorities:
- Clear snow for all emergency establishments and surrounding routes. These are the interim care facilities/hospital, ambulance stations, fire stations and RCMP.
- Clear and maintain all arterials while snowfall continues. Highway 19A and Alberni Highway are examples of main arterial roads.
- Clear and maintain collector roads while snowfall continues. Pym Street, Hirst Avenue, Stanford Avenue and Corfield Street are all examples of collector roads.
- Clear residential areas of snow, working on through roads first and cul-de-sacs last. It takes approximately 48 hours to reach the cul-de-sacs from the time it stops snowing. If snow falls again within that time, crews must then return to streets with higher priority. Understandably, this lengthens the response time for residential and cul-de-sac roads and is the prime cause of inquiries on snow control.
Plowing snow to the centre of the road is called windrowing. The City does not use this method because:
- Our main plows have fixed blades designed to plow to the right. Windrowing to the centre would require operators to drive down the wrong side of the road creating a hazardous situation.
- Windrowing down the centre of the street blocks left-hand turns at many points frustrating motorists.
- As the size of the windrow increases, it encroaches into the travelled lanes. If the snow persists, it would eliminate parking at the sides of roads.
- Eventually, windrows would have to be removed, decreasing the program's snow plowing productivity. In addition, it is difficult to dispose of snow because of the problems created when it melts in spring.
When you consider the combined length of sidewalks in the City, it is too costly and time-consuming to use additional people and equipment to perform this service for all areas. The City does clear sidewalks around parks, sections of Highway 19A, sections of downtown and City-owned properties.
City snow plows have a thick rubber blade edge instead of a steel cutting edge. This ensures driver safety and reduces equipment damage when the plows strike manholes and other unforeseen obstacles. When traffic has packed the snow to ice, plows cannot remove it. Salt or a salt and sand mixture is used to melt the ice and help traction. Salt is most efficient at -6 Celsius and warmer.
When you consider the large number of driveways in the City (over 5,000), it becomes very time-consuming and costly to use additional resources to perform this service. Our operators are aware of the inconvenience and attempt to avoid the problem when possible. Sometimes this is impossible when, because of priorities, drivers are required to continue on with their designated program leaving piled up snow as they pass.
Please call the Engineering and Operations Department at 250 248-5412. Normal working hours are from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday. To handle off-hour requests or concerns, the department has a 24-hour standby service seven days a week. In the event of a continuous heavy snowfall, we ask you to limit your calls to emergencies only.