Snow-removal contractors having hectic year

Cordell Reise has been in the snow-removal business for 10 years. None stack up to 2013.

Cordell Reise has been in the snow-removal business for 10 years. None stack up to 2013.

“I think it was Oct. 28, or something like that, we hit the ground running and we haven’t stopped since,” said the owner of R&R Turf and Property Management.

Other local contractors tell similar stories.

“It’s been hectic, let me tell you,” said Brad Jorgensen, who operates BJ Bobcat & Trucking.

“I don’t remember snow being like this year’s since when I was a kid.”

“I’ve lived in Red Deer all my life and I can’t remember ever seeing this,” added Hugh Lockhart, whose business is Greenside Up Landscaping.

Kerri Tisdale, general manager of Alberta Parking Lot Services, cited some numbers to put things in perspective.

“Last year we had 127 cm in the whole year, up to the end of April. This year, at Dec. 23, we were at 97.1 cm of snow.”

That’s meant long hours with few days off for snow-removal workers.

Mark Body, who owns Maple Bay Maintenance, has taken one day off since the beginning of November — Christmas Day.

Lockhart has also been burning the candle at both ends.

“There have certainly been some weeks where I’ve been 105, 110 hours, and I’ve had a couple of my guys even more,” he said, noting that some of his employees are labouring with a shovel.

“Staffing is the biggest problem, because people don’t realize just how demanding it is.”

In addition to fatigue and sore muscles, human conflict can be a workplace hazard.

Body described one incident this winter when a motorist in a mall parking lot climbed into a loader and punched the operator. In another instance, a man who had to move his parked vehicle a short distance for a snow-removal crew threw a piece of ice at the loader and challenged its operator to a fight.

“That was just before Christmas,” marvelled Body. “It could be a city worker, it could be one of my girls shovelling a sidewalk — you just can’t have people assaulting people for no reason.”

Other contractors agreed that drivers, shoppers, residents and business owners often lose their cool as the snow piles up.

“We have the most thankless job out there,” said Jorgensen.

People need to realize that Mother Nature is the culprit, not snow-removal workers, said Tisdale.

“Other countries have typhoons and crazy hurricanes. In Western Canada, we get crazy snowfalls. They don’t happen a lot but when they do happen, we have to have patience.”

The heavy snowfall hasn’t necessarily meant a cash windfall for contractors, many of whom provide their services for a fixed monthly rate.

“This year, we’ve been losing on a lot of those,” said Tisdale.

Another problem has been finding a place to put all that frozen precipitation.

“We’re pretty much tapped out for space,” said Jorgensen. “We’ve already started hauling out some customers because they have no space left.”

But trucking snow off-site costs money, which customers are not eager to pay.

“We’re having a huge problem in that area,” said Reise of the snow-storage issue.

Space concerns also exist for snow that is being hauled. There can be long delays at Red Deer’s busy snow dump sites, and worse problems elsewhere.

“There are snow dumps within Central Alberta that are closed to contractors and the public,” said Tisdale. “They’re only open to the villages and towns.”

Dumping in places like farmers’ fields is not a solution, she added, because of the salt and sand contained within the snow.

Lockhart thinks Red Deer’s snow-removal workers would be happy to see an end to the white stuff.

“It wouldn’t break any of our hearts, I don’t think. Everybody wants work but it’s been a little ridiculous this year.”

Jorgensen would be quick to take advantage if business does slow.

“I’m ready to go to Mexico, where it’s warm,” he said.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has advised that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used interchangeably for second doses and Alberta is following that approach. (File photo by The Canadian Press)
Red Deer down to 66 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer has lowest number of active cases since last November

road consturction
Road closures at Red Deer hospital next week

Red Deer drivers are advised of road closures in the vicinity of… Continue reading

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky poses for a photo in Toronto on Monday, October 17, 2016. Two of Canada's most prominent athletes are part of the ownership group of a new Las Vegas National Lacrosse League franchise. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash join forces with Las Vegas lacrosse team

LAS VEGAS — Wayne Gretzky’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings in… Continue reading

Nelly Korda holds the trophy after winning the Meijer LPA Classic golf tournament, Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Nelly Korda wins in Michigan for 2nd victory of year

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Nelly Korda became the first two-time winner on… Continue reading

Jon Rahm, of Spain, holds the champions trophy for photographers after the final round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Sunday, June 20, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Rahm finds perspective to go with passion and wins a U.S. Open

SAN DIEGO — Jon Rahm’s road to becoming a U.S. Open champion… Continue reading

The Lime-S electric scooter is pictured in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. When shared e-scooter companies rolled into Canada in 2018, they hoped a few small pilots would quickly result in a country full of people zipping around on two wheels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giordano Ciampini
Despite the rough ride, e-scooter companies are bullish on Canada

TORONTO — When shared e-scooter companies rolled into Canada in 2018, they… Continue reading

Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex is shown under construction in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Thursday, January 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Inter Pipeline rejects revised hostile takeover offer by Brookfield Infrastructure

CALGARY — Inter Pipeline Ltd. has rejected a revised hostile takeover offer… Continue reading

A crowded Maid of the Mist tour boat operated from the American side of the Niagara River is seen from Niagara Falls, Ont., on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. The travel industry says the federal government’s new border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians are a step in the right direction but don't provide enough clarity on what travel will look like for consumers this summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Travel industry says new border rules don’t provide enough clarity

HALIFAX — The travel industry says the federal government’s new border measures… Continue reading

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearms, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

Inuk elder Reepa Evic-Carleton light a qulliq, a traditional oil lamp, at a public ceremony to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on the bank of the Ottawa River behind the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. on Thursday, June 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Singh blasts Liberal ‘hypocrisy’ on National Indigenous Peoples Day

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he believes the Liberal government… Continue reading

Most Read