FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the snow falling from the sky at a fast rate, the City of Fort St. John is reminding everyone to slow down and to understand how snow plowing procedures work in the City.
Julie Rogers, Communications Coordinator with the City says the City will prioritize certain roads before the side roads get done.
“It is the same as it always is. If we get 5 cm, we zip out there, we clear the roads, we do Priority 1 first and then we move along to the other ones, but if it starts to snow again, we stay on Priority 1. Because the forecast right now is we are going to have snow all week long, it is likely that we will be on Priority 1 all week long.”
Rogers says that if the forecast changes, they will move along to the other roads.
The City hasn’t been getting many calls in terms of people being upset that roads aren’t being cleared.
“Most of the people in our community are accustomed to winter. They recognize that we have to keep our main roads clear so that people can get to the hospital, they can get downtown. So as long as you can very slowly and carefully navigate yourself out to a main road, you will be free and clear.”
Every year is different according to Rogers. She says if it only snows once a week or once every two weeks, they will get to residential roads but if it does snow every other day or every 3 days, then some people may only see their road cleared 2 or 3 times a winter.
The biggest issue the City sees when they do decide to do a residential road, is that residents are leaving cars in the streets, hindering the ability to get the road cleared.
“What we would say to them is, when we are going to come and do your road, don’t have your truck parked on it.”
This year, the City is doing things a little differently. They are going to be using the Fort St. John City App to notify residents on the streets they want to clear that they are coming.
“We will go to our Fort St. John City App and we will send a message to the people on those streets. We will say ‘sometime in the next 3 or 4 days we are coming to your neighbourhood to clear your streets. Please park off the road where possible’.”
The City does acknowledge that it isn’t always possible. But they would like everyone to keep that information in mind.
You have to download the App to be able to receive messages. When you do download the App, you have to enter your address into the information fields. Then the City will be able to send you messages that they are coming to plow your roads.
Rogers says there were some roads last year that never got cleared because the snow plow went to the street and they couldn’t fit because of cars being parked on the road and they would turn around and leave.
“When there are vehicles parked, not just at the side, but almost in the middle and parked facing the wrong way, as well as double parked, the snow plow doesn’t fit. There were a number of roads like that last year.”
If the temperature is below -7, the City will not use salt on the roads. When they do salt in those conditions, it will melt a little and then it gets so cold that it freezes again making road conditions worse.
“We have several different qualities of gravel. We have a gravel pit in Taylor and we crush our own gravel. Depending on the thickness of the snow and ice that is on the road, determines how heavy the gravel is that we use. It is quite a serious science.”
The City crushes the gravel so that it is pointy and sharp, not round so it gives a little bit of better traction.
The City mainly gravels at intersections when it is as cold as it is out right now. They don’t always do the entire road, but when it is falling fast like it is now, they will do the intersection first and then go back and do the whole road if they have the time and resources to do so.
The City also is reminding everyone to slow down.
“Give yourself some extra time. You really do have to slow down. Even if there is gravel on the road, sometimes it doesn’t always give you the traction you thought it was going to give you.”