Rural roads in city still under stress from snow
While the town of Lindsay has been spared the worst from a punishing winter storm that began on Friday, some communities in Ward One and War Six received over two feet of snow that, pushed by howling winds, has drifted into “snow mountains” over six feet high and blocking many side roads, making safe travel impossible.
“We sure need help now,” said Ward Six councillor Ron Ashmore in a telephone interview with The Advocate. “Lilac Road, Settlers Road, Post Road and Heights Road are impassible. The city has extended their ‘significant weather event’ alert until Dec. 30 at 5 pm.”
A city press release, made available late on Dec. 27, confirmed Ashmore’s assertation stating, “Due to the significant volumes of snow, drifting snow and the amount of cleanup needed, the city will need to extend the projected end date of the significant event from December 27 until December 30 at 5pm. The sheer volume of snow in some areas is causing significant time impacts to achieving compliance with usual levels of service. In some areas, it is taking an hour to clear one kilometre of road.”
“We have drifts that are high and wide,” Ashmore said. “They are turning into ice as the temperature goes up. They will be heavier to move as time goes by. Time is critical. This snow needs to be moved now. We need to keep going on this.”
“We have had equipment failure,” Ashmore said. “I don’t know how many city operators we are short but private contractors are working hard to get the snow moved on roads they are responsible for.”
Ashmore said that fire trucks, ambulances and milk trucks have no chance of traversing these important rural arteries, posing all kinds of health and financial risks to the people who live on those roads. Ashmore said that some dairy farmers will have to start dumping milk if roads cannot be cleared for transports to access these farms.
“There is a sense of abandonment (on these rural roads),” Ashmore said. “We should have been more prepared for this. Folks need to know there is help on the way. We weren’t proactive enough. We have had storms like this before and we can’t give up getting these roads cleared.”
Josh Charpentier, a Lindsay resident with family in the Dunsford area, couldn’t agree more with the Ward Six councillor.
“My in-laws are facing a very interesting situation,” Charpentier said in a telephone interview with The Advocate. “Their road has only been partially plowed, and then the plow seemed to have stopped half-way and left a wall of snow about six feet high blocking the road. Why did they stop half way down the road?”
To access his in-law’s property, an uncle with a tractor and blower created a temporary road around the pile left by the city plow and across a field that allowed Charpentier’s vehicle to access a main road that had been properly cleared.
Charpentier said multiple phone calls to the city have yielded little information for his in-laws or their neighbours who are largely elderly and concerned about the isolation from emergency services caused by this storm.
“They (the city) have had a week and a half to prepare for this storm,” Charpentier said. “There should have been more people in place. I talked to the councillor (Ashmore) and he said that additional employees were not available because it was Christmas, and that there was broken equipment creating safety issues. Is the city’s snow removal equipment not (adequate) and ready for the winter? We do live in a northern climate. This isn’t Florida.”
“These roads are blocked by hard-packed drifts five-and-a-half-feet high. In other places where the snow was still powder, I was up to my waist in snow,” Charpentier said. “Other farmers are asking my uncle (with the tractor and blower) to check in on their livestock that they cannot reach because of the poor road conditions.”
Charpentier wondered what the city’s plan is to deploy equipment effectively to battle this storm.
Ashmore told The Advocate that “there will be a major discussion about how we (the city) do this (clearing snow) better at the earliest possible convenience.