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‘The perfect storm’: Revelstoke CAO responds to snow removal controversy

Evan Parliament, CAO for the City of Revelstoke, will perform a review of snow removal operations
Snow removal in Revelstoke. (File photo)

The City of Revelstoke has updated residents following the significant controversy surrounding snow removal in the community over the holiday season, and has committed to improving snow removal operations going forward.

The City apologized for their ‘failure’ to communicate with residents while the roads remained unplowed, and provided updates in the form of media releases from Dec. 27 - 29. Their latest press release, which reached the desks of the media on Dec. 29, stated that staff and contracted snow removal operations have ‘successfully tackled the backlog of plowing’, and added that Evan Parliament, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Revelstoke, will now review snow removal operations.

Parliament confirmed that a limited number of staff were available over the holidays, with four snow removal staff out on Dec. 25 and several staff out again on Dec. 26. He stated that staff who had just come off an eight-hour shift on the night of Dec. 26 said no to working during daytime hours on Dec. 27 due to fatigue, but returned to clear the streets on the evening of Dec. 27.

Parliament said that the combination of staff shortages due to the holidays, the significant snowfall, and the enhanced work required to clear the amount of snow led to residential roads remaining un-plowed for two to three days.

The review of snow removal operations will ‘ensure future delays do not occur, or that unplanned service level reductions are communicated to residents efficiently and effectively’, and is not directed at snow removal staff, but will focus on internal processes that slow response times.

“The bottom line is we can’t allow this to happen again,” said Parliament.

Certain streets in Revelstoke take priority when it comes to snow removal. According to Parliament Victoria Rd., Mackenzie Ave., Fourth St., the route to the hospital, Airport Rd., and roads that lead to the highway are given priority.

Operations Manager Mike Manson told Parliament that under normal circumstances, not during the holidays, a full crew could have removed the 83 centimetres of snow that fell on Revelstoke over two days in 20 hours, divided into two shifts.

However, Parliament added that staffing issues and the holidays made this outcome difficult to achieve.

“We sort of had the perfect storm,” said Parliament.

Parliament said that Environment Canada notified municipalities on Dec. 22 of the coming snow event, and added that contingency plans could have been in place.

“Surely there’s something we can do to make it better, where staff and private contractors can hit the streets and get the snow off quickly,” added Parliament.

Although previous media releases stated that Revelstoke experienced an ‘unprecedented’ snow event, to which some residents raised an eyebrow, Parliament clarified that he was referring to the timing of the snowfall which landed during the holidays.

“The last five days was not the worst that Revelstoke has seen,” said Parliament about the snowfall.

He added that he acknowledges the frustration residents were feeling because that level of service wasn’t delivered.

“To maintain that level of service requires some ingenuity and some creative ways to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” added Parliament.

Parliament stated that he will address the media again once he has gathered the facts and completes his review.

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