SUMMERSIDE – Snow removal crews have had their work cut out for them during the month of December and the new year hasn’t offered much relief.
© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
January is picking up where December left off. Friday saw near whiteout conditions on Water Street in downtown Summerside. City crews are busy keeping up with the snowfall and keeping roads and sidewalks clear.
Municipal Services director Greg Gaudet said so far, the city crews and contractors have been able to stay ahead of the snow, keeping streets open and sidewalks cleared.
“It’s business as usual for us,” Gaudet said. “It’s been a typical December. The last Decembers have been pretty mild. This pretty normal for a December for us.”
Gaudet said the mounds of snow removed from the streets are being transported to a snow dump out by the wastewater treatment plant on MacKenzie Drive.
Gaudet said it is difficult to determine the status of the budget until all of the numbers are in.
“Our winter snow budget season goes from Ja.1 to Dec. 31,” he said. “Those audited financial statements don’t come out until the end of March. That’s usually when we know exactly where we area with the budget. Right now, it’s not abnormal. We’re just starting a new budget year so we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Gaudet said one of the plusses for the department this year has been its equipment.
“We’ve had very minimal equipment breakdowns,” he said. “That’s the good story for us because with this amount of snow a lot of times we get a fair number of breakdowns. But the city have invested capital dollars in replacing older equipment over the last seven years.”
Gaudet said the fewer the breakdowns in equipment, the more consistent snow removal services can be for the public.
“I’m sure people are getting frustrated with the start of the winter season with the amount of times they’ve had to shovel,” he said. “It’s always a challenge when there’s lots of snow.”
Gaudet the latest priority for his department is to make sure that fire hydrants are cleared of snow.
“That was being done for the last couple of days,” he said. “We had guys working through the holidays doing some fire hydrant cleaning. Fire Chief Jim Peters also keeps an eye on it as well. He’ll give us an idea of what areas we need to get done.”
Ian Simmons, owner of Kool Breeze farms, does private snow removal contract work and his staff has been busy.
“In one stretch we were out Dec. 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, five out of six days in a row,” he said. “I think that’s the most I’ve ever seen in one week stretch. Normally, in a busy year, you be out maybe three times in one week.”
Simmons say customers pay a flat rate for the year depending on whether there is a lot snow removal or a little.
He said the bottom line for his business isn’t really known until the end of April when the snow season is over.
“We have spent money on repairs and maintenance, fuel and on our drivers who drive our machines,” Simmons said. “If you look at snow in general, it’s a whole different section of the economy. Look at all of the stores that sell snow shovels, salt or parts and things like that, they’ve all been very busy. Even the people that sell snow bots, hats, snow blowers and even wiper blades, it’s been a very busy season to start.”