Nanaimo crews ready for a winter wallop

City workers might not be wishing for a white Christmas, but they’re ready for one.

City workers responsible for keeping Nanaimo’s streets clear of snow and ice might not be wishing for a white Christmas, but they’re ready for one.

Preparations for battling winter elements begin in the summer months, said Brian Denbigh, manager of roads and traffic services.

“We have 25 pieces of snow and ice removal equipment and it all goes in the shop over the summer maintenance, repairs, painting … it goes on for awhile,” he said.

The city has three tandem dump/plow trucks, four single-axle trucks, 12 four-wheel-drive trucks, five backhoes and one front-end loader ready for whatever winter decides to throw at the Harbour City.

“We’ve held classroom training sessions and any new employees have been out with seasoned operators so staff are familiar with the equipment,” said Denbigh.

The city has a contract with Northwest Weather Net for up-to-the-minute forecasts.

“It works really well and can pinpoint areas of town that might receive more snow than others,” said Denbigh. “That allows us to get in there right away.”

Environment Canada is predicting another La Ninã weather pattern for the West Coast, which could mean a cooler and whiter winter.

“We had a La Ninã last year, but fortunately a lot of the snow fell at higher elevations,” said Denbigh. “Right now we’re not looking at anything too major, but you never know. I usually start breathing a little easier at the end of February.”

Heavy snowfalls in January and February depleted the 2011 snow and ice removal budget, leaving just  $10,000 available from the budgeted $600,000.

But with roughly three weeks left until the new year, Denbigh isn’t too worried.

“It’s difficult to budget for snow and ice, so $10,000 is actually pretty good,” he said. “In 2008, we spent 1.1 million on a three hundred and eighty thousand dollar budget.”

The 2012 snow and ice removal budget, targeted at $600,000, is awaiting approval from city council.

 

Snow angels

The City of Port Coquitlam is banking on ‘angels’ to help in the removal of snow and ice from city sidewalks this winter.

In its second year, the Snow Angel program connects volunteers with residents who have difficulties clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes.

A city bylaw requires residents to clear the public sidewalks in front of their property as soon as possible after a snowfall.

Pardeep Purewal, Port Coquitlam spokeswoman, said there was a good response from both volunteers and residents requesting snow angels last year, but a lack of snow shelved the program.

Nanaimo has a similar bylaw regarding clear sidewalks, but Brian Denbigh, manager of roads and traffic services, said the Snow Angels program is not something the city is looking into.

“They have something similar in Calgary with neighbours helping neighbours,” he said. “I would certainly hope if someone in Nanaimo had difficulty clearing a sidewalk, a neighbour would help them.”

For more on the Port Coquitlam program, please go to www.portcoquitlam.ca/Dynamic/Page5897.aspx