Snow clearing team up to the challenge so far this season

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Snow came quickly at the end of November but the Fort Frances snow clearing team has been up to the task.

Aside from a few typical hiccups that come with the start of the season Fort Frances Operations and Facilities Manager Travis Rob says things have gone to plan.

“So far snow clearing has actually been going quite well,” Rob said. “We’ve had a few [snow] events and we’ve had our plows out, which is typical. We’ve had a couple breakdowns, so we’re working through those on a couple of our pieces of equipment, which is typical with your first couple of snowfalls, that’s when you seem to find all of the problems.”

Rob said so far the season has been good for the department because snowfalls haven’t come in quick succession.

“We’ve had time to get through the event and get the snow clearing components done and on to the next one,” Rob said. “It was starting off a little bit scary because we were getting an inch or so a day, and that’s challenging because you can get behind in a real hurry when that’s how the snow comes.”

One of the things that hampered snow clearing efforts last year was snowfall events happening in quick succession.

“Last year turned into we couldn’t get through one snow storm before we were onto the next storm, and that’s the worst-case scenario,” Rob said. It’s nice when mother nature gives us a few days to get caught up before we get more snow and more snow and more.”

There are regulations that the Town has to follow as set by the government of Ontario.

“There’s a regulation that governs how we do snow clearing, called the Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways. That regulation outlines how fast after the accumulation reaches three inches on the roadway that we have to have that snow removed,” Rob said.

The speed at which snow clearing is required is determined by the class of road which is dependent on the amount of traffic a particular road sees.

“Based on the road classification we will prioritize where our plows go and how they go through town to ensure that the highest priority, highest class roads are cleared within the allotted time permitted for maintenance standards,” Rob said. “Then from there we work out to our lower class roads all the way until we get to our lowest class which is class six. A class six road has no time limit on snow removal.”

This means that priority is placed on areas which most require clearing like around hospitals and schools and the like.

“Minimum maintenance standards require that we plow the snow off the driving portion of the roadway,” Rob added. “It does not, under any circumstances, require us to remove snow, snow banks, etc. We do in certain areas particularly downtown, but there’s no requirement under the standards to remove snow. All we have to do is plow it off the driving portion of the road.”

Rob says that people often bring up the fact that neighbouring International Falls will plow into the middle of the road to keep banks from building up at the curbs. But the regulations require the entire driving surface of the roadway be cleared of loose snow.

The regulations also require that sidewalks be cleared of snow within 48 hours of an accumulation of three inches or more.