The heavy snow pack at the Vanderhoof yard has forced organizers to cancel the upcoming cattle auction. (photo/ black press)

“Roof issues” causes cattle auction cancellation

Pole shed snow pack poses hazard

  • Mar. 14, 2018 12:00 a.m.

B.C. Livestock (BCL) cancelled the March 16 cattle auction in Vanderhoof due to what the association has dubbed “roof issues”.

Al Smith, the Vanderhoof auctioneer was advised of the cancellation by the BCL general manager, Kevin Johnson and said that, given the amount of snow conditions at the Vanderhoof Yard it’s the best move for the safety of all concerned.

“It’s better not to take any chances with the amount of compacted snow and ice up there. I’ve seen three or four buildings in the area with newer roofs that have collapsed, just this year. There’s a riding stable, just south of Quesnel that’s just flattened, for example,” said Smith.

“You don’t want that happening in the middle of an auction.”

The heart of the problem lies in the fact that the early snows of last fall resulted in a eight to 10 inch crystallized pile of snow that froze, thawed, and froze again. That pack then froze to the roof and prevented subsequent snow from sliding, and resulted in a significant snow pack.

Decody Corbierre, who has worked at the Vanderhoof Yard for the past 10 years, explained that, while the staff at the site are doing what they can, there is a strong sense that the configuration of the pole shed at the site (where the snow pack is causing the greatest concern) really needs to be addressed in the long term, even though it would be a significant investment to address the situation.

“We found a cracked beam in the pole shed and, when the sale is underway, there would be 20 or 30 staff working in there. We just can’t take that chance,” said Corbierre.

“And it’s not just the risk of collapse, but we also have to be careful about that snow suddenly deciding to slide. It’s about two feet deep of ice and snow and stretches over about a 70 to 80 foot span. It could be very dangerous to people outside the shed if that came down on them.”

According to Smith, he hasn’t seen this sort of snow pack in his memory, and he is quick to point out that he’s been in the business in and around Vanderhoof for 34 years.

“I think people will understand that you just don’t take chances with things like this,” he said.

In fact, the sale may have been cancelled regardless of the snow pack issue.

According to Johnson, there is also an issue with the scale at the auction site and even sales wouldn’t be possible until it is repaired.

“We have that issue with the scale, but of course we are also exercising an abundance of caution with the snow issue. Cancelling the sale was the responsible thing to do,” said Johnson.

The March 16 sale is one in a series of sales that start in February and proceed with multiple dates throughout March, April and May.

Further information is available at bclivestock.bc.ca.

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