It's been a slippery week in Okotoks after the sudden dump of snow.
The Town of Okotoks has been hearing complaints from some locals about not seeing snow-clearing vehicles, a lack of sand on the roads, and general slippery conditions in town.
The town does have a rigorous system for snowfall events and snow clearing, where roadways are divided into three priorities.
Priority 1 routes include arterial roads and downtown streets.
Transportation Team Lead Peter Mcdowell says keeping traffic flowing through main roads is always the top priority, and new snowfall can reset their process.
"During that snow event, our main focus was to try and keep one through lane of travel clear all around town, and then try to work our way from Priority 1s to Priority 2s. Every time it starts snowing again we reset, then that 24-hour period occurs after the snow stops where we have 24 hours to clear Priority 1s and 48 hours to clear Priority 2s after the snow has stopped."
He says crews were out pretty quickly on the weekend, but the town doesn't exactly have a fleet of snow removal vehicles.
"We only have three plows and sanders in the town here that we use. We have other mechanical planning, but that's not anything to apply abrasives. We hear that 'we haven't seen a sander all day, we haven't seen the sander all weekend. People are frustrated. We're trying to let people know that on our Priority 1s, we try to maintain them down to bare pavement. There are some areas where there's shadows or pooling of water that prevents us from getting to that."
When it comes to those abrasives (sand, gravel, and salt,) McDowell says they're effective to a point and aren't a one-size-fits-all solution.
"When we apply abrasives to help combat the icy conditions on the road, that helps a little bit, but the traffic going over it kind of spreads that material around and it almost looks like we were never there 10-15 minutes after we've been through. Salt is essentially ineffective after we reach about -10. It kind of just sits there and doesn't do anything until we get the proper temperatures again to help melt the snow, then we've got a bit of an ice bond because the snow is insulating it."
Aside from initial snow clearing the day of a snowfall event, crews also work in the following days to clear the ice as it loosens up.
Crews were actually working on Priority 3 routes priority to the snowfall to combat the ice that was already there and to flat-blad the roads to prevent rutting.
"It's quite the process, it takes a little bit of time and with only three trucks to do that, it does take a little bit longer."
To view the town's snow removal process, click here.
Residents can report areas that need some attention to the Operations department at (403) 938-8952.