Snowstorm prompts call for backup

Council asks staff to look into organizing private help to assist in dealing with heavy snowfall events.

Sicamous council wants district staff to be better forearmed should they face a perfect storm such as experienced earlier this month.

Couns. Todd Kyllo and Malcolm Makayev have asked staff to devise a new plan for how to cope with snow events similar to the one that occurred between the period of Jan. 3 and 6. Key to this plan is having contractors with the necessary equipment committed to assisting the district should the need arise.

“There’s a lot of other equipment in town that could help in these types of situations, and I think we need to have a back-up plan,” said Kyllo, who commended staff for doing what they did with the numbers and equipment they had. “For the most part we don’t need it. But this time we could have used them and we should be looking at some kind of scenario that would… have those people in place when we get hit with these types of snowfalls.”

Makayev agreed, noting public works was presented with a worst-case scenario with staff holidays, the power outages that occurred during and after the storm, record snowfall and freezing rain.

“I think they did good with the resources that were available but, responding to Coun. Kyllo, I also think it’s a good idea to work with our union and our staff to have backup resources that are local and on standby.”

Prior to these statements, made at last Wednesday’s council meeting, district operations manager was asked to provide a synopsis of the storm and the district’s response. He called the storm a major snow event that had a crew of three staff members working Saturday and six on Sunday, concentrating on Priority 1 (downtown, hills and school bus routes) and Priority 2 (collectors and industrial) roads. Residential streets and lanes are classified as Priority 3.

On Monday, a crew of six continued to work the snow event. That day a series of power outages began in the district, requiring staff to work overtime monitoring water and wastewater levels. On Tuesday, it started to rain, requiring staff to work on snow and ice control, as well as widening lanes, clearing intersection sight lines, etc. Power outages continued.

“Wednesday was our first real day of dedicated cleanup,” said Hand. “We just checked with our operators this morning and confirmed they moved over 220 tandem truckloads of snow over to our storage area….”

As a result of the storm, Hand said the district’s snow removal policy, updated last year, will be “tweaked” somewhat. Planned changes include making Shuswap Avenue a Priority 1 road, and Gillis Crescent a Priority 2.

Coun. Janna Simons asked that staff also consider make some effort to plow residential roads at least once so that people aren’t stuck at their homes.

“You couldn’t get anything down my street,” said Simons. “There was a girl who needed to go to the hospital, the ambulance was almost stuck on Monday morning. So it was a situation.”

Hand said staff will respond to emergency situations, clearing a path as needed.


Eagle Valley News