February 25th, 2024

No snow doesn’t mean no work for city crews

By JAMES TUBB on December 22, 2023.

Canadian Geese, with no reason to head south right now, have taken over the home field of the Medicine Hat Mavericks at Athletic Park, an enclosed space that is perfect for grazing but still close to the safety of the South Saskatchewan River. City crews are keeping busy without snowfall and say they're ready to go at the first sign of the white stuff.--NEWS PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The lack of snow hasn’t given Medicine Hat’s public works any days off.

The city’s roads crew has utilized the lack of winter dusting to continue their between summer and winter duties that are usually cut short by the arrival of snow and ice.

Craig Maunder, an operations engineer with the city, says while they’ve completed their winter prep by bringing in the needed materials like sand and salt, they’ve also been able to continue some fall jobs that are usually subject to winter’s arrival.

“We get to actually do some of these things we normally have to put on the back burner and hold off,” Maunder said. “We’re finishing our fall street sweeping, getting some maintenance on our equipment done. You put off additional patching and concrete work that now we can stretch out a little bit longer. We keep busy moving around and then obviously just waiting if there is any sort of snow and ice control conditions.”

Maunder has worked for the city for 15 years and says he has not seen dry and un-winter like conditions this late into the calendar year. He remembers 2016 didn’t have snow until close to Christmas but is just embracing the extended fall.

The lack of snow and ice and the further lack of any projected winter weather is also a blessing in disguise for his crew. While not wanting to jinx the current forecast, Maunder says he’s looking forward to seeing his crew not have to work over Christmas on snow removal and potentially getting to spend the time with friends and family, an unusual opportunity.

When the snow does eventually arrive, whether it be 2023 or in the new year, he says they will be able to quickly get on the road. Maunder says the conversion of most of their equipment has already been completed and is ready for snow and ice control operations. They’ve held some back from conversion as they complete their pre-winter jobs and will get those ready for the white stuff when it comes.

The same level of preparation can be found with B&L Lawn and home maintenance, a local landscaping and snow removal company waiting for the snow to fall.

Owner Blair Keith says they are one of the lucky few in the local industry who also does renovations on top of snow removal. He says they’ve stayed busy without the snow, building fences, decks, installing underground sprinklers and he was installing windows on a house while speaking with the News.

Keith says they were called for a lawn cut and fertilize last week, the latest he’s ever cut a lawn in his 35-plus years on the job.

“It’s definitely strange but I don’t mind it, I enjoy the nice weather,” Keith said. “It’s easy to get around and there’s no ice or snow. We’ve got lots and lots of contracts always waiting.”

Like the city’s crews, Keith says he’s been able to maintain his equipment more than he has ever before, using the snowless times to keep his six vehicles at top shape.

When the snow does come, even if it’s a light dusting, he says they’ve had crews lined up since October ready, and when a lot of snow comes, they’ll ask those out of work if they want to help for a day to give back.

“When we do have snow we need at least a minimum of 12 people for light snowfall and it still takes us four or five hours to do it right,” Keith said. “So a heavier snowfall, we need 20-25 people during the heavier snowfalls.”

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