Snow plow operators are true heroes this winter


By Barb McKay


When winter storms hit most people hunker down to wait it out. For one group of municipal employees, however, heavy snow falls and whiteout conditions mean it’s time to go to work.



Plow operators worked long days last week to clear roads in and around Kincardine. Here, plows try to clear snow around cars that had been abandoned on the highway. (Photo courtesy of Kincardine Public Works)



Throughout January’s relentless attacks by Mother Nature, Kincardine’s snow plow operators received a lot of attention, and admiration. During the two major storms that hit last month – one in the first week and the other just one week ago – dozens of photos began to surface on Facebook of snow plows digging out cars buried in towering snow drifts and clearing roads impassible by any other vehicle.


Don Huston, Kincardine’s newly appointed manager of operations, is no stranger to driving a snow plow and spent long days over the past month helping to keep roads open to traffic.


“We have a fairly big area to cover,” he said in a telephone interview with The Independent Friday. “Plow operators are working the maximum 14-hour days.”


The coverage area includes Kincardine to North Bruce, Underwood, Glammis and Tiverton. There are 19 plow trucks and sidewalk plows, with operators spread throughout the municipality, in Armow, Underwood and Kincardine. Lately, the fleet has been used to its full capacity. In some areas, snow drifts were so deep that a truck with a blower was contracted to help clear the worst of it.


The job of a snow plow operator can be challenging, even dangerous, but with this weather one that has been absolutely essential.


“There are times when they were out that they could only see the front of the plow,” Huston said. “It’s a big, expensive piece of equipment these guys are responsible for.”


During poor weather conditions Huston is in regular contact with the Kincardine and Tiverton fire departments and EMS to ensure that the roads are cleared if there is an emergency.


“As soon as a page comes in we are gone,” he said.


Huston said there was an instance during the first storm in January where an ambulance responding to a call got stuck on Bruce Road 23. Plows arrived and got the ambulance out and cleared the way to the scene.


During that same storm even the snow plows were not immune from the treacherous road conditions. While clearing a road north of Armow one plow slid off the road and flipped over. Fortunately, the driver was unharmed and the only damage to the plow was a broken mirror.


Huston acknowledged the work of his team during this old-fashioned Bruce County winter.


“They are an excellent team; dedicated and hardworking. They give it their all.”