North Okanagan community rallies to keep good Samaritans behind the wheels of their snowplows - InfoNews

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North Okanagan community rallies to keep good Samaritans behind the wheels of their snowplows

When it snows, David Almaas spends three-to-four hours clearing sidewalks and walking trails around Enderby, along with a group of roughly four other like-minded locals.
December 22, 2017 - 8:30 PM

ENDERBY - After news that a group of volunteer snow plowers might have to cease their efforts due to legal issues, the community has come together to find a solution that lets the good Samaritans keep up their work.

David Almaas is one of about five people in Enderby who clear sidewalks and walking trails using off-road vehicles equipped with snowplows. They’ve been doing it for years, but recently, one of them was stopped on the road by a police officer, which drew the whole operation into question.

“(The cop) told him it’s a big fine and they’d tow the vehicle next time,” Almaas says, noting the fine is around $500.

The problem is off road vehicles aren’t allowed to be on the road, something Almaas admits he knew but never really worried about before. After the warning, some of the plowers took to social media to let people know they’d have to stop doing the work. Many people expressed their disappointment.

“We’re just trying to help people out. It’s the right thing to do, right?” Almaas says.

He says he bought the equipment a few years ago to do his own driveway, which quickly grew to him doing the neighbour’s driveway, and eventually snow balled into a route that includes the River Walk trail and numerous sidewalks. He starts around 7 a.m. and it takes him three-to-four hours to complete.

Thanks to a new pilot program, people like David Almaas will be able to keep lending a hand when the snow flies.
Thanks to a new pilot program, people like David Almaas will be able to keep lending a hand when the snow flies.

“More scooters are going around downtown, more elderly people have a hard time shovelling. It’s just easier to whip through and clear ‘em out,” Almaas says.

When contacted Friday morning, Enderby Mayor Greg McCune said he welcomes the volunteer work — as long as it’s done safely and legally.

“You’re always trying to help out your neighbour. If we can figure out a way to do it legally, I’ll be in favour of it,” McCune said.

By the end of the day on Friday, the City of Enderby had done just that. Chief administrative officer Tate Bengston says he’s spoken with the RCMP and reviewed ICBC regulations, and come up with an idea that should satisfy everyone.

“Obviously, we have to balance interests and make sure everything is safe and legal, but what we’re doing is we’re going to start a pilot program here to work with good Samaritans to issue them a permit to operate on untravelled portions of the roadway,” Bengston says. “The critical thing is we want to make sure the work is done in a way that’s safe for them, and others.”

Plowers would get a restricted plate from ICBC to operate on sidewalks and boulevards for the strict purposes of snow clearing. The permit would be free of charge and operators would have to follow a set of specific requirements — but they’ll be able to keep doing their work.

“We’re optimistic we’ve found a way that it can be done,” Bengston says. “Based on everything so far, it looks very viable.”

Bengston says the extra help provided by the volunteer plowers is what community is all about, and he’s glad they were able to find a workable solution.

“Our community is built and powered by good community volunteers working in conjunction with the city and everybody else,” Bengston says.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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