Many local companies have their hands tied when it comes to snow removal options after the City of Red Deer temporarily closed its two snow storage sites to private contractors on Thursday.
The city needs the space to dispose of snow being scooped off transit routes and collector roads
“It’s creating a little bit of havoc for us,” said Cordell Reise, owner of R&R Turf and Property Management. “We’re either going to have shut down the business completely or come up with some other options, I guess.”
Reise said the only thing he could think of at the time was cleaning off his own acreage outside of the city to dump some snow, but he doesn’t want to undertake such a dire and expensive option until he has no other choice.
“We have places booked in for clearing tonight and I’ve let them know what’s going on so we will just have to deal with it as it comes, try to work around it. We’ll try to find some area that we can stack it for the time being and worry about hauling it later,” Reise said Thursday morning.
Hugh Lockhart of Greenside Up Landscaping also uses a subcontractor to have his snow hauled to the city’s sites.
“This will have a huge impact. It already is; even when there is only one site open, we can’t go in and just dump, we have to wait in line. We’ll maybe haul 12 to 15 truckloads out and it might take seven hours total and now I guess it might be double, even triple that time because instead of hauling two loads an hour, we’re hauling a load every hour and a half.”
Most of Lockhart’s 17 sites have onsite storage for snow, but that space is piling up fast and the company is having to steal more and more parking stalls on its sites to meet demand.
“If we get a 15-to-20-cm dump next week, we’d be in lots of trouble.”
The snow can’t be put just anywhere, Lockhart added, as it’s infused with salt, sand and is overall contaminated, making matters even more tricky.
Canar Rock Products Ltd. of Red Deer has 50 sites it’s committed to clearing snow from, including commercial and apartment space. Only a small percentage of Canar’s snow jobs require hauling the snow away, said owner Travis Peirens, who was working long hours on Thursday with his partner to get the snow from those places transported to the city site before the deadline.
“I’ve been expecting this, quite honestly. In the last few days, we’ve had to quit hauling with the truck and attached wagon because there just wasn’t enough room to get in and out of there so we’re just hauling with the tandems,” Peirens said.
Kerri Tisdale, general manager of Alberta Parking Lot Services, said they have also been prepared for something like this to happen.
“We started talking about options four to five weeks ago and decided to purchase a melter,” she said.
The melter would not only thaw down the snow but it also separates the debris in it from the water and uses a number of filters. It does requires a number of permits from the city as it can only be used in certain areas with the proper drainage.
They don’t come cheap, priced around $200,000, but are well worth it for the company that is responsible for so many sites, Tisdale said.
It will be the first time Alberta Parking Lot Services has used a melter in Red Deer.
Curtis Hubert of Escape Yard Care in Red Deer summed up the ideal solution: “All we need is the sun to come out.”
Hubert clears about 20 sites, largely residential.
“There’s nothing to be done about it. The city can’t take a propane torch and melt it all away. They’re full. It’s the way it is,” Hubert said. “We’re been working steady, everyone in the business has and now our machines are starting to break down because we haven’t had time to fix them. People need to be more understanding and patient.”
The city says it’s meeting with Alberta Environment today to discuss an interim site that would be open to private contractors for the duration of the season.
According to Red Deer roads superintendent Jim Chase, snow in both storage sites stands about 23 metres high. The south site along 40th Avenue has a total volume of about 196,000 cubic metres and the north site on Edgar Industrial Drive is holding 205,000 cubic metres.