City of Courtenay snow removal crews were running full throttle during the recent storm that covered the Comox Valley.
Addressing council Jan. 20, deputy CAO Trevor Kushner said the “rigorous program” starts by removing snow from arterial roads, then tackles collectors, residential collectors and residential areas, and finishes with lanes and cul de sacs.
“We make a single pass on both sides of the roads,” he said. “We want to ensure there’s emergency access in all categories of roads including residential areas. Then we come back and make a second pass.”
Kushner said every snow and ice control event differs in terms of intensity, duration and timing. New technology and weather reports enabled City staff to prepare for the latest snowfall.
“We proactively changed our snow and ice control program into three shifts of 16 hours, which is a maximum under WorkSafe BC rules,” Kushner said. “We had every single asset in the City of Courtenay out for 48 straight hours.”
The duration of snowfall forced crews to re-start the removal process after the first pass, which meant re-plowing, and sometimes covering cleared driveways and sidewalks.
Another issue with the latest storm was the 42 centimetres of snow over 36 hours. Kushner said operators were forced to abort some residential areas due to children playing, and residents shovelling snow as it was simply unsafe to bring in large equipment.
He said two factors make Courtenay unique for snow/ice removal: a high level of service that includes residential areas, and an exceptional crew.
“We have the finest fleet and public works crew that I’ve seen in my 30 years. Overall, I’m extremely happy and proud of the response.”
Coun. David Frisch was impressed with the efforts when he saw the amount of snow being cleared downtown.
Coun. Doug Hillian asked about the capacity to respond to challenging situations on residential streets, where someone might have trouble making a doctor appointment, for example.
Kushner said on-street parking presents an issue for crews, especially in residential areas and cul de sacs.
“It’s almost impossible to manoeuvre a tandem truck,” he said. “Sometimes they can make a single pass in but they have to back out, they can’t turn around.”