Communities fighting to stay a step ahead of snow

Sylvan Lake’s social media-savvy mayor used his tweeting skills to help residents who were stuck in the snow on Friday.

Sylvan Lake’s social media-savvy mayor used his tweeting skills to help residents who were stuck in the snow on Friday.

Mayor Sean McIntyre tweeted, “If anyone in #SylvanLake needs a push or a tow out this morning, just let me know and I will come and give you a hand.”

He posted the same message on his Facebook page.

By noon, the first-term mayor had pulled out five cars and towed another vehicle off the snow-plagued streets.

“I just knew people needed a hand,” said McIntyre. “That’s kinda always been the way that I have run things. Now that I am in the position of mayor I’ve got a bit of a flexible schedule. And if somebody needs a hand, I can give them that help.”

McIntyre started early Friday morning and expected to call it a day around 1 p.m. He said he has mostly been driving around the neighbourhoods that he knows are having issues.

“I have a mid-sized SUV that has four-wheel drive and happens to be good at pulling people out of the snow,” laughed McIntyre.

Like all of Central Alberta, the Town of Sylvan Lake, with a population of 13,000, has been trying to stay a step ahead of the snow.

For the second time this season, the town has contracted extra crews to double its snow plow workforce. After the big dumps in December, the crews did a surface plow.

This time, they have been asked to do the best they can to hit pavement. McIntyre said all the streets in Sylvan Lake should be plowed in the next seven or eight days. He said record snowfall accumulation and the rate at which snow has fallen has proved to be challenging.

“Typically in this area we get it a few centimetres at a time,” he said. “Not only are we dealing with record snowfall for accumulation, it’s also been falling a foot at a time. Which means rather than being able to follow our usual snow clearing schedule, we have to do those blitzes where every street in town needs attention in order to be passable.”

Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie said city crews are doing as much as they can do keep up with the snow but when it snows every other day it puts a monkey wrench in the plans.

The city has its entire snow force out and some are doing double shifts. Extra contractors have also been hired. Plows have been through the city at least once and in some cases numerous times this season.

Christie said the plows are working in residential areas and on main streets.

He noted there have been complaints about the city’s plowing or lack of plowing but he said that is to be expected.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to get some complaints,” said Christie.

Apart from the complaints, Christie said he has seen a lot of community pride where neighbours are helping neighbours and residents are dropping off coffee to plow drivers. Lacombe has a population of about 12,000.

“The majority of people understand they are working hard and doing as much as they can to try and keep up with it,” he said. “We just ask people to continue to be patient. We will do what we can to catch up with Mother Nature.”

Christie said it will be a great year for guessing when the snow pile is going to melt.

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