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Kelowna News

Big storm clean up continues as response cost becomes clear

A tractor removes snow from the rink at Jim Stuart Park in downtown Kelowna. Clean up continues two weeks after the largest storm to hit the area in decades.

KELOWNA - The first thing to know about Kelowna’s clean-up response to the near record snowfall that pummelled the city two weeks ago? It’s not over.

“It’s carrying on right now,” confirmed City of Kelowna roadways supervisor Stephen Bryans, who said city crews continue to deal with the aftermath. “And it certainly dented our snow budget, without a doubt. It was an extraordinary event.”

While tentative — the bills are still coming in — Bryans said he expects the final cost of the response to approach $400,000. The snow began falling Jan. 4, dropping 33 centimetres in and around Kelowna by time it ended the next day.

As for lessons learned, Bryans said cars parked on streets was one of the biggest problem crews encountered, as well as what to do with the sheer volume of snow.

“Normally the weather helps us out. We plow a bit and the rest melts,” he said. “The on-going accumulation of snow has been a challenge. We normally don’t remove it from streets but we had to. We normally clear transit stops by shovel but this time we had to send machines out.”

Cars parked on-street became a double-edged problem. Some residents couldn’t get out to begin with and others found themselves increasingly mired everytime a plow passed around them, piling up snow. Along with the near record snowfall came a deluge of complaints, some valid and some not, said Bryans.

“We had lots of calls about sidestreets being missed but sometimes we just couldn’t get in to do them because of all the parked cars and garbage cans,” he said. “We try to respond to all service requests but it was a challenge to respond to all of them.”

Bryans said the enormity of the impact such a large weather event can have on the city means he will push the city for a protocol to deal with future storms.

“We don’t have a large storm like this too often, but who knows, weather patterns are changing,” he added.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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