Busy start to year for Kincardine's snow plow operators




By Barb McKay

Early in the mornings, while most people are still sleeping, Kincardine’s snow plow operators have been on the job for several hours, removing snow from the roads in time for the morning commute.


The past couple of weeks have been busier than usual, and challenging, as snow has fallen almost continuously since Dec. 26. Accumulation, combined with high winds, has made snow removal a top priority in the municipality.


Municipality of Kincardine Roads Supervisor Don Huston said the municipality has 20 full-time and three casual snow plow operators, as well as two full-time mechanics who can drive the plows as needed. With the recent snowfall, he said, crews have been working anywhere from nine to 14-hour days.


“Crews have been going steady this winter season,” Huston told The Independent in an email this past weekend. “The issue we are having is the cold temperatures and the snow is getting packed by the vehicles, and during the day the temperature rises a little and the salt is creating soft spots with some of our roads.”


Wind has created visibility issues for operators and the resulting highway closures have increased traffic on in-town roads. Huston said plow drivers have to keep a look out for pedestrians walking on sidewalks and on the roads during squalls when visibility is low. Horse and buggy traffic creates another challenge and drivers have to be extra cautious.


“Fall meets are held with the road authorities, OPP and the Mennonite community where there is input from each party to address safety concerns,” Huston said.


The municipality has created a snowplowing and sanding operations brochure that is now posted on the main page of its website (www.kincardine.net). It contains contact information for road closures and weather conditions, snow removal priorities, winter safety tips and answers to frequently asked questions about snow removal.


According to the brochure, it takes between six and eight hours to plow all the municipally-maintained roads. Streets are prioritized based on traffic volume and rate of speed. Crews remove snow in the downtown area at high priority areas as time permits.


Huston said operators are also responsible for clearing sidewalks through the municipality.


“There are two sidewalk units in Kincardine one of the challenges is trying to get the correct positioning on sidewalk with the snow cover, especially at the start of the season when ground is not frozen.
The sidewalk units are six feet in width and so are the majority of the sidewalks so, yes, there a good chance grass will be damaged but will repaired in spring.”


Huston said each of the units averages between 40- 50 kilometres each day on sidewalk snow removal – roughly the distance of travelling from Kincardine to Walkerton.


There are a number of things the public can do to help snow plow operators complete their routes more quickly and efficiently:


- Avoid parking on the street overnight.


- Don’t drive on closed roads.


- Don’t deposit snow onto the sidewalks and roadways.


- Slow down and keep a safe distance from snow plows.


- If there is a fire hydrant in front of your property, clear the snow around it.


- Place garbage and recycling out to the curb on the day of pickup, rather than the night before, to avoid it being buried.


Huston asks that parents talk to their children about the dangers of playing in the snow banks and building forts near the road.


“There have been a few near misses in other areas where snow would have filled in the fort, burying them.”


For more information about Kincardine’s snow plow operations, visit the municipal website.