BY BILL PHILLIPS
Bring on the snow. The city is ready for it.
Blake McIntosh, the city’s Manager of Roads and Fleet, says road crews is prepared for whatever onslaught of snow Mother Nature throws at us.
“Our full seasonal winter staff is back,” he said. “All our winter equipment is outfitted and ready to go. We’ve got all our anti-icing and traction material stockpiled and ready to go. Contracted equipment, on retainer, has been secured and we’ve reached out to our traditional providers, such as trucks and loaders, and they’re all ready to go. Should it show, we are ready to start plowing.”
While the snow may be a little late arriving this year, McIntosh says 2018 has already been a significant year for snow because of a 10-day period in February when it the snow just kept coming. He says they are already 13 per cent over the 2018 budget for snow removal.
“Normally we get a plowing event toward the end of November,” he said, adding it still might come before the end of the month.
Crews that would normally be tasked with snow removal at this time of year will be kept busy on other jobs, such as fall maintenance, grading, potholes repairs, clearing ditches and more.
Like the rest of us, the city work crews don’t have a crystal ball to predict the weather, so they just have to get ready for whatever comes.
“They’re calling for another El Nino year,” he said. “There’s potential for more freeze-thaw, freezing rain which impacts our potholes season. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Snowstorms do seem to be more intense, as well, and we only need to look back to those 10 days in February last winter.
“I think, for that time, that was the biggest one we had in probably 40 years,” he said, which makes it tougher to get all the roads cleared quickly. “If a snow event occurs and it stops, then we have a chance to clean up. But when it stops and and restarts and the volumes are eight inches or more every time is snows, then it’s a challenge for us to get it done in a timely fashion.”
And, he encourages motorists to be aware of road conditions and the fact the crews are out working on them.
“When we do get a snow event, which means 75 millimetres or more, give yourself extra time and potentially look at different routes because the odds of you interfacing with snow removal equipment are probably greater,” he said. “If you give yourself extra time and drive to the conditions, it would be much appreciated.”
What you need to know about snow removal
Although Prince George has not yet had a “snow event” in the 2018-19 winter season, city snow and ice removal crews are conducting snow and ice control operations throughout the city.
General winter operations
Each winter, City crews maintain 670km of road and 189km of sidewalks. In addition to clearing routes, winter operations may include the following:
- Depositing an annual average of over 3600 tonnes of fractured rock, 5200 tonnes of sand, and 1500 tonnes of salt onto roads, sidewalks, and City-owned public areas.
- Pushing back windrows along boulevards to increase snow storage capacity.
- Ice cutting roadway shoulders in areas lacking curbs and gutters to allow for drainage to enter ditches instead of sitting on road.
- Slashing and chipping overgrown lanes and roadways of trees and shrubs to improve visibility and drainage.
- Replacing damaged culverts as necessary to alleviate flooding concerns during spring thaw.
- Patching potholes.
City crews have the following snow and ice control equipment:
- Seven sanding/plow trucks
- Seven graders
- Four sidewalk plowing and sanding machines
- Five loaders
- One snow blowing loader
- Two anti-icing trucks
The City Parks Department also has its own snow removal equipment, which is used to remove snow and ice from civic facility parking lots, paths and trails, and other park areas:
- One backhoe
- One bobcat
- One truck plow/sander
- Three small tractors with attachments (e.g. snow blowers, snow blades, or brooms)
Once snow and ice is removed from City streets and sidewalks, most of it is deposited at the City’s two main snow disposal sites, which are located near 18th Avenue and Foothills Boulevard and on Guay Road. The City also sometimes uses two smaller disposal facilities located on Austin Road and in the Vanway neighbourhood.
After Prince George received roughly three feet of snow last February, crews delivered about 13,000 dump truck loads (up to 500 per day) equaling 261,900 cubic metres of snow to City disposal sites – enough to fill the CN Centre four times. That’s roughly equal to the yearly average amount of snow delivered to the disposal facilities over the previous three snow seasons.
Requests for service can be sent to the Service Centre at 250.561.7600 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents can also use the CityofPG mobile app or visit the City website to make a service request.
Snow events and priority route information
City roads are categorized into three snow-clearing priorities, indicated by three colours on the City’s snow clearing map. According to the City’s snow and ice control procedure, if at least 75mm of snow falls in a 24-hour period (classified as a “snow event”), the City will aim to clear Priority One and Priority Two routes using both City and contracted equipment, within 48 hours following the end of the snowfall. If at least 120mm of snow falls in a 24-hour period, the City aims to clear Priority Three routes 72 hours after Priority One and Two routes are completed.
During a snow event, the City also employs contracted crews using the following equipment:
- Five graders
- 11 loaders
- 13 tandem dump trucks
- Two snow disposal site bulldozers
The City Parks Department may also hire its own contractors to assist staff with snow and ice control in City parks.
Motorists are reminded that parking restrictions are in effect from October 15 to April 15 each year to help with snow operations:
- Downtown on-street parking is prohibited from midnight to 7:00am.
- On-street parking is prohibited from 10:00pm to 7:00am on Priority One roads and hills, the Hospital District, and a number of other designated roads.
- In residential areas, on-street parking is prohibited from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Parking on the side of the street with odd house numbers is permitted from 6:00pm to 8:00am unless otherwise posted.
- Illegally parked vehicles are subject to a $50 ticket per offence and/or may be towed.
- Plowing around parked vehicles can slow down operations and create hazards for other vehicles by creating windrows in the street.
The City of Prince George thanks residents for following its winter parking restrictions and for driving cautiously when around road crews and equipment.
Road alerts: Subscribe to receive updates on snow clearing directly to your inbox. Sign-up for news and alerts and check the “Roads” category.
Learn more about City snow clearing at www.princegeorge.ca/snow. The webpage also has a news section where residents can quickly find the latest news updates relating to snow removal.