It’s snowing again as I look out from the comfort of my office. What else is new? Well, we do live in Chetwynd and it’s winter and I’m thinking of our outside crew as they work to keep our streets clear of snow and ice, safe for feet and rubber tires.
When winter comes to Chetwynd, the maintenance crew goes on the winter shift. That means that the machine operators and truck drivers get out on the roads while you are still sleeping to prep them for the rush hour so you can get to work on time – having overslept just a little. A little appreciation for their skill and dedication is in order.
Chetwynd is blessed with a skilled crew. Six full-time machine operators including a lead hand hit the streets at six o’clock in the morning on priority 1: Hospital Road, Fire Hall exit, Hillside, and 51st Street NW. Priority 2 (North and South Access Roads) is next followed by priority 3, the residential areas. When the town is safe for you to venture out, the crew turns its attention to the airport, a federally regulated facility owned by the District of Chetwynd. District-owned parking lots are not cleared until the next day. And when snow keeps falling day after long, grey day we have six very busy operators!
Downtown streets require a different procedure because there is nowhere to push the snow. Beginning at 4:00 a.m. the snow is scraped to the centre of the streets and loaded into dump trucks by a snow blower and hauled away to a dump where April will embrace it with her charms.
Keeping the airport useable is a major operation requiring a separate fleet of equipment. When clearing operations are about to begin, the Edmonton Flight Centre is notified that the runway is about to be occupied. This allows the equipment to be deployed. Once the snow is cleared and the pavement swept dry, a friction test is conducted and the results filed with the Edmonton Flight Centre. In the case of a pending medevac flight, the whole crew is called out four hours in advance of the flight to prepare the runway unless, as on November 22 when the crew was called back from other areas for an extreme emergency, the runway was ready within an hour and ten minutes.
Weekend service is on call. Blaine Brake and Paul Gordon go out early to examine the streets and call out the crew when necessary.
The outside crew also brightens our long winter nights. We love our Christmas lights and we dedicate two workers and a bucket truck to put them up and turn them on – unless the crew has to be called off for an emergency. Winter lights and parade, all part of the atmosphere that makes Chetwynd the town we love, come at a cost, a cost that we are prepared to pay.
Thank you outside crew, and good work!
Merlin Nichols, Mayor