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Roadside shoulder mowing on hold until rain returns

Grass that's high and dry - Fears of sparking a fire is prohibiting B.C. road maintenance crews from summer shoulder mowing of the province's roads.
August 11, 2017 - 9:00 PM

Extremely dry conditions throughout the Thompson-Okanagan has left highway maintenance contractors and the province with a tough decision to make regarding annual roadside maintenance of highway rights of way.

To mow or not to mow?

With the extremely dry conditions currently, the likelihood that mowing operations could produce a spark that could ignite a wildfire is very real.

On the other hand, not mowing roadside grass means there is more fuel available should a fire start from an accident, a cigarette butt or even discarded glass.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Danielle Pope says the ministry has made maintenance contractors aware of their obligations under the province’s Wildfire Act and Regulations, under which roadside mowing is considered a high risk activity that is prohibited during an extreme fire danger rating.

“That said, it is important that contractors work to the best of their ability to ensure important work, such as roadside brush clearing is done safely and in a timely manner,” she said in an email.

Pope says the ministry is monitoring the situation to ensure all contractors are in compliance with the Wildfire Act and Regulations.

“We will continue to work with crews as they deal with the challenging fire conditions in B.C.,” she wrote.

Argo Road Maintenance (South Okanagan) Maintenance Manager Al Fraser says he’d like to have his crews out cutting, but conditions are simply too extreme to take the chance right now.

“Once the hazard is reduced to where we’re allowed to mow, we’ll be on the roads again. Each year we tend to get a hot streak, but not too often we get one like this year that continues for weeks and weeks. That’s the unfortunate thing,” he says.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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