A snowplow tackles Alder Street on Saturday.

City struggles with snowfall

Saturday’s, 14 cm of snow on the ground is the most in Campbell River since 1982,  according to Environment Canada.

And city crews had trouble dealing with the huge amount of snow, said Drew Hadfield, city transportation manager.

“I understand people being concerned and upset that residential roads aren’t being done, but our crews were out there 24 hours a day since Friday morning dealing with snow the removal the best they can,” Hadfield said. “With over 240 km of roadway we have limitations as to how much we can do.”

The city’s number one priority during a snow storm is to keep primary routes open for fire, ambulance and police, in case of an emergency.

And because of the continuous snowfall that only started letting up on Saturday afternoon, the city’s five snow plows were going all day just to keep streets like Dogwood and 2nd, clear.

Once the snow started slowing down, and the crews got a handle on the main roads, they moved on the secondary roads with hills.

They then cleared roads that were primary feeders into communities, hitting side streets and cul de sacs last.

Hadfield said that the crews were also using the city’s backhoes and small tractors, but that because the snow was so heavy they were pushing the limits of the use of the equipment.

At Monday’s council meeting Mayor Andy Adams apologized “to any of those who were inconvenienced,” by the slow snow removal process.

“One of the challenges we have, is not so much the budget, because we’ve got the snow removal budget, and it’s not so much the people, because we’ve got the people that were coming out, it’s that we don’t normally get hit with that level of snow for that length of time very often and as such, we don’t have the equipment to be able to get out there,” said Mayor Andy Adams. “Staff are doing the best they can and I know most of us were out there with our shovels trying to clear our sidewalks and driveways as best we can.”

In the 2016 budget, the city set aside just under $113,000 for snow removal, double what they spent in 2015.

With the snow came power outages across the city. On Friday evening there were 3,700 customers without power at 11 p.m. said Ted Olynyk, community relations manager for BC Hydro. By morning the crews had reconnected all but 100 before that number jumped to 3,500 again by 10 a.m. that morning.

“When large events like this happen it’s all hands on deck,” Olynyk said.

BC Hydro says its number one priority is keeping people safe. Olynyk said the crews respond to downed lines and other safety hazards first.

The second priority is ensuring that power is restored to all emergency services, such as the hospital and the fire hall.

Then they get to the customers, fixing the incidents that affect the most people first.

“It’s like clearing the freeway before the cul de sac,” he explained.

Olynyk said that during snowstorms most power outages are caused by branches being weighed down by snow and coming into contact with power lines, though in some cases car accidents take out entire poles.

Despite the snowy conditions Const. Sara Clark said that the RCMP only responded to four snow-related collisions over the weekend. There were no injuries. They also aided BC Hydro by monitoring downed power lines.

“I think Campbell Riverites did a good job of staying home and staying safe,” she said.