City works crews and snow removal companies will likely heave a mighty sigh of relief when the winter of 2013/2014 is finally over. It’s been a particularly difficult one so far for the people tasked with keeping Calgary’s roads, sidewalks, and pathways safe.
After a snowfall or a sudden thaw and freeze cycle that covers Calgary sidewalks and streets with ice, city workers and private contractors get to work. You might think that all that’s needed to attack all of that snow and ice is strong backs, some heavy equipment, and a lot of sand and salt but there’s a lot of planning and science behind the modern business of snow and ice removal. The industry has its own professional organizations, magazines, and there are certificate programs for people who work in the industry.
Fluctuating temperatures, heavy snowfalls, and frequent high winds have made for deeply drifted snow and very slippery conditions in and around Calgary this winter. The city of Calgary tries to keep 300 kilometers of public pathways around the city clear within 24 hours of a snow event. Crews are struggling to keep up and in spite of their efforts, during one week alone this winter, Calgary EMS received 210 calls related to falls.
Calgary residents sometimes complain about snow removal services in the city but try to imagine how massive an undertaking it is to clear the streets in a sprawling urban environment. When snow hits, an army of municipal and private snow clearing workers descent on city streets, parking lots, and private roads in a well-coordinated and organized assault.
It’s never too early to prepare for snow and cities and snow removal companies begin to plan for winter during the summer. Priorities are set, staffing needs are planned for, materials and supplies are ordered, and equipment is prepped so it’s ready to go at the first sign of snow (which can happen at any time in Calgary).