City of Kamloops crews were prepared for first major snowfall of the season: Streets manager

KAMLOOPS - Nearly seven centimetres of snow dumped on Kamloops and the surrounding area yesterday, and things could have been worse if city crews weren't prepared.

Glen Farrow, the city's street and environmental services manager, says his snow crews were fully prepared leading up to the city's first major snowfall of the season.

But some people on social media say the city could have done more leading up to the Nov. 2 snow event. One user claimed a major snowfall happens every year, and the City of Kamloops was "not prepped and ready to go."

Farrow says that's far from true. He says city crews have been closely watching four weather systems for the past week, while having crews and equipment ready to go.

"We were prepared, we had staff in place, we had all of our equipment," he says. "Everything was prepped and ready to go and was for a while."

Farrow points to several different factors that led to messy roads in the city yesterday, particularly the timing of the snowfall. He says the heavy snow began falling between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., just in time for the morning rush.

"The reality is we can’t pre-plow the roads," Farrow says. "This particular event we had, it really was the perfect storm.”

Kamloops Fire Rescue Capt. Darryl Cooper says crews responded to 21 motor vehicle incidents yesterday, some of which crews stopped to check on their way to other calls.

"We were still lucky they were mostly minor incidents," Cooper says.

He says one thing he saw more of than usual yesterday was people who were unfamiliar with driving in the snow, pointing out that at least two stuck truck drivers he checked on simply didn't have their vehicles in four-wheel-drive. One driver didn't even know how to put the truck into four-wheel.

"From those experiences, to me it seemed like just people aren’t familiar with driving conditions," Cooper says.

He does give kudos to Kamloops drivers out on the roads yesterday, saying although traffic was gridlocked in some areas, people made every effort to move out of the way for first responders.

"For the most part people were awesome," he says.

Reports of "sheer ice" on some streets and bridges in the city made the rounds on social media, which was a factor for much of the traffic back-ups across the city.

Because of the timing of the snowfall and the low temperatures, compact snow and ice on the roads were virtually unavoidable, Farrow says, adding city crews did the best they could with the resources they had.

"I think there is an expectation for some that we have 100 trucks and have a truck on every road in the community," he says. "We had full crews out plowing and applying sand to roads."

Farrow says the city does have a product to put down on the streets before a snowfall, which is usually used on arterial roads, busy intersections and intersections on hills. But he says when heavy accumulation is expected; putting the product down doesn't make a difference.

He adds the city's budget for plowing and other snow resources is never put before the safety of the community.

"Never do we use the excuse of a budget. It’s all about our service levels and public safety."

The city typically has 10 to 12 trucks on the road after a major snowfall, and Farrow advises residents to review the information the city has set out about snowplows before they call for service.

Specifically, people who live on flat, local roads shouldn't expect to see a snowplow on their road for up to a couple of days. You can read more about the city's standards for snowplowing here.

Farrow believes the accusations coming from some people on social media don't reflect how the majority of the public feels about city crews keeping up with the seemingly endless work they go through during the winter.

"I think the masses truly do understand the challenges we have and the good work we do."

If you want to learn more about how snowplow drivers prepare for and work during winter conditions in Kamloops, go here.

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