Volunteers gathered in February to clear the snow off roofs in Sandon.

Volunteers gathered in February to clear the snow off roofs in Sandon.

Ghost-town shovellers keep old roofs clear

In historic Sandon, roofs can take a lot, but need maintenance

The collapse of three buildings in Nakusp over the last two weeks had Nakusp’s fire chief warning people to check their roofs for snow load.

In the historic town of Sandon, an hour down the road, that’s just called business as usual.

“We have 15 feet of snow this year,” says Vida Turok, a property owner in Sandon. “If there’s a big dump of snow, we’re up there.”

Turok and her partner have taken it upon themselves to watch for and shovel snow off the roofs of the main historic buildings in Sandon.

She says the larger business and government buildings were built to withstand a snow load, but also were maintained pretty regularly in the mining town’s boom-days.

“There were 5,000 people living here in the early 1900s, so everybody shovelled snow,” she says. “There wasn’t a concern of buildings collapsing because people just shovelled the snow off.”

Now a ghost town, it’s up to the few locals like Turok to climb Sandon’s historic roofs and shovel them off when the load gets too great.

“These buildings can withstand a huge weight, at least 2-3 feet of snow,” she says. “We shovel them off, without problems or issues.”

“It has to be done,” she adds. “We try to keep on top of whatever the Weather Network says it’s going to do. So we plan our snow shovelling as logically as possible. If we know there’s going to be a 30 centimeter dump, we make sure it is dealt with.”

Turok and her partner watch the load on about a dozen buildings in town, but sometimes they need a hand. A few weeks ago they called in some volunteers to lend a hand.

“We had about seven volunteers come out, and we had a great time,” she said. “It was fun, we just care for the buildings and are willing to take the risk.

“But we don’t think there’s any risk if the snow load doesn’t become too bad.”

Her advice to Nakuspians coping with snow on their roofs?

“It’s not an issue if you stay on top of it,” she says. “If you deal with it, you don’t have to worry.

 

Not a historic building, but an indication of how much snow falls in Sandon over the winter.

Not a historic building, but an indication of how much snow falls in Sandon over the winter.

Turok says snow load isn’t a problem if its dealt with during the winter, like during this snow clearing bee in February.

Turok says snow load isn’t a problem if its dealt with during the winter, like during this snow clearing bee in February.