A snowplow clears snow from a parking lot in Whitehorse on Jan. 9. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse plows have tough time keeping up with 20-cm snowfall

‘It’s hard to try and keep up while it’s snowing’

Sanders are still on the roads 24 hours a day, but Richard Graham admits it doesn’t feel like it’s made much of a difference after a storm like last weekend’s.

“When it’s snowing as heavy as it was, it’s hard to try and keep up while it’s snowing,” said Graham, acting director of infrastructure and operations for the City of Whitehorse.

“We’ve definitely had a few calls (about it).”

Despite the feeling that Whitehorse is still socked in after last week’s 20-centimetre snowfall, Graham said the city has had all hands on deck.

Five graders, one with an ice blade, and eight dump trucks, four of which can be outfitted with sanders, were dispatched with extra crews all weekend. They remain on the roads this week.

“We are out there. We are running longer shifts where possible while still always keeping the budget in mind,” Graham said. The 2017 budget for winter road maintenance was $3.4 million. The 2018 budget has not yet been approved.

The city’s snow and ice removal policy outlines five priority levels as follows:

1) highways, major arterial roads, emergency routes, major bus routes, and roads with steep grades;

2) other arterial roads, remaining bus routes, major industrial roads, roads in the central business district, roads adjacent to schools and roads to prioritised city-owned facilities, prioritised city-owned parking lots, emergency routes within priority two zones;

3) laneways in Ingram and Whistle Bend, if or when they are used for curb-side collection;

4) all other roads in the city;

5) remaining city-owned parking lots and lanes.

The policy also allows for the city to call in additional assistance (including independent contractors) in the event of severe storms. The last time this happened was spring 2014 when a major snowmelt caused drainage problems.

Graham said dump trucks have removed snow in Copper Ridge and Porter Creek, both of which get a bit more snow than downtown or Riverdale, the latter of which saw its first plow this winter on Jan. 9.

“We’re not going to get to all the side streets right away,” Graham said. “We let them pack down in the meantime so they are at least drivable.… (They) definitely go through a couple of rough days but the sides streets are starting to toughen up, to harden up now.”

Crews are currently focused on clearing residential roads during the day and downtown streets at night.

In the event of a fire or medical emergency where snow makes roads impassable, residents can call 667-2111.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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