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Plow operators in Shelburne town kept busy with storms

Snow removal have been going nonstop since the snow began to fall.
Snow removal have been going nonstop since the snow began to fall.

It’s been a rough week for snowplow operators with a steady stream of storms hitting the province during the week.

While the snow didn’t seem to stop, neither did the Shelburne Public Works Department.

While the snow didn’t seem to stop, neither did the Shelburne Public Works Department.

“They have been working 24 hours since last Sunday,” said Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall.

Three storms hit the province in the past 10 days, some of them nearly back-to-back. Public Works staff has been steadily removing the snow since the evening of Feb. 12. That was 96 hours straight as of Feb. 16 and there was still much left to do.

“We have amazing, dedicated public works staff,” said Mattatall.

There is only four full-time public works staff for the town working on snow removal and they have been working in rotating 12-hour shifts, two on and two off since Feb. 12.

Mattatall is disappointed to see some public comments about the snow removal.

“I feel bad because they work so hard,” she said.

The four staff had 33 kilometres of snow to remove in the town and as soon as it was cleared the second storm moved in. The town has been under fire for not removing snow quick enough.

“We can’t all be first,” said Mattatall.

A snow removal policy developed by the town has identified priority streets to have cleared with thoughts of emergency vehicles such as police, fire and EHS, as well as roads to the hospital cleared first before moving on to secondary streets.

King, Water, Harriet, Transvaal and Clements streets are all marked to be cleared first.

NEW EQUIPMENT

A new five-tonne truck was added to the fleet of snow removal equipment two years ago.

While it is expensive to remove snow, said Mattatall, the town is nowhere near depleting their snow removal budget.

She said when snow falls fast and furious the town will turn to outside contracts to help but they aren’t always able to drop what their doing to dig in.

She also said the town could hire more public works staff and snow removal equipment, but that cost would be reflected on the taxpayers.

“Council has a responsibility to safeguard the taxpayers’ money,” she said.  “We are a small community, we can’t have everything.

“Typically we don’t have bad winters,” she continued, “but if that changes, then we will relook at things.”

She said one of the biggest things people can do to help is to stay off the roads until the roads are cleared.

“If you don’t have to go somewhere, wait until the plow has gone through,” she said, adding driving on unplowed roads makes for a rutty road.

She said she’s happy to see the majority of the town showing their appreciation for the work the public works staff has been doing.

“They are exhausted,” said Mattatall.  “They are worn out and they are beat.”

 

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