Unless you happen to live in the fabled lotus land of Victoria, which reportedly has already seen cherry blossoms, shovelling your sidewalk in winter is just another condition of being Canadian.
With Wednesday night’s accumulation falling on the Greater Trail area, the City of Trail has chosen this point to remind home owners, residents, and business owner of their responsibility to make sure their property is as snow free as possible in their annual Snow Removal Procedures bulletin.
Unfortunately, there are those in the community for whom picking up a shovel and digging in isn’t quite as easy.
“We get calls every year from elderly people and people with disabilities who can’t do their own snow removal,” said Larry Abenante, city works manager. “All we can do is provide names of contractors, we can barely keep up with what we have to do.”
Abenante reiterated that it has always been the responsibility of the home owner and that the city doesn’t have the resources to provide the services to individual residents.
“It is a service that’s lacking. We’ve got an aging community and people want to stay in their own homes,” he said. “They don’t always have the money to be able to pay somebody to do it for them. I don’t really have an answer.”
For their part the city crews have been, literally, working overtime, with crews out Thursday night in order to have the downtown core cleaned up before predicted additional snowfalls, a potential for significant warming, and even potential rain going into next week.
“Last year we had to clear the downtown three times before Christmas, this is the first we’ve had to deal with it this year,” Abenante said. “This change that’s coming, that’s why we’re tackling it. Try to keep the heavy slush out of the catch basins.”
Abenante explained that dealing with winter snow removal in the city core was a definite consideration that went into the planning process in creating the design for last summer’s renovation of Victoria Street and subsequent plans for future work in the downtown area.
“Anything we did on Victoria Street, where there was one catch basin, there are now two,” he said. “You shouldn’t see all the huge puddles along there anymore.”
He added that the bump-outs at the end of the Bay and Cedar avenues will be used for snow storage as it’s cleared from the streets and that alterations to the sidewalk along Victoria are also an effort to improve the city’s ability to deal with snow and improve safety.
“The new sidewalk that goes past the Family sculpture across from the arena is to allow for snow build up,” Abenante said. “We had issues in the past where Emcon would plow the highway through town pushing the snow onto the sidewalk and then the city would clear the sidewalk back onto the highway. The idea is we want to get pedestrians as far from the highway as possible.”
For the next while, at any rate, if you are driving through the downtown core at night expect to encounter snow removal crews and equipment.
“We’re going to be working through the nights,” said Abenante. “We’ve got two operators now where we used to have one so we can run equipment on a shift schedule and we have a posting out for another plow operator.”