“Winter is coming.”
Those words have sent chills up the spines of millions of fans of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, Song of Ice and Fire.
But for Kevin Dicken, the Director of Operations for the District of Hope, the fact that winter is coming simply means that he and his crew need to prepare and be ready to respond to whatever the season may bring.
“Typically, in Hope, we don’t have the dramatic snow events that happen at the higher elevations. I think the highest single snowfall we’ve seen in recent years has been 12 inches. But that’s still enough snow to make your day a lot harder than it needs to be. We’re be out there helping to keep the impact of snow to a minimum,” said Dicken.
He explained that his crews have been checking equipment and mounting plows to the front of the three and five ton trucks owned by the District.
“We check out the equipment, make sure everything is operating the way it should and stock up on a lot of salt and sand.”
The biggest single piece of equipment within Hope is the salt brine liquid dispenser; a piece of equipment that is to pre-treat pavement and minimize the impact of ice on the roadways.
The District augments the equipment they own by putting out a call to local equipment operators to be ready to come on board should an extraordinary snowfall happen.
“We have some people ready to jump in and help out if it gets really bad, but we always hope that we can handle it without going outside the municipal crews,” said Dicken.
One area where the District will have to employ outside contractors is the clearing of sidewalks.
In previous years the District had left it up to home owners and businesses to clear the sidewalks in front of their properties, but this year sees the implementation of a council resolution that has fundamentally shifted that policy and called for the municipality to do the work.
“We’re responsible for keeping the sidewalks clean now, and we really don’t have the equipment for that function,” said Dicken. “You’d ordinarily use something like a skid-steer to do that job and we don’t have them so we’re putting out a request for independent contractors to express interest in the work. We’ll make that decision in the near future and be ready to tackle the sidewalks before the first heavy snows,” said Dicken.
All of this work doesn’t come cheaply.
Although it’s generally acknowledged that last year’s snowfall was unusually heavy, Dicken said that the District’s approach is to be prepared for the worst. That means they need to be prepared to at least match the $270,000 spent on snow removal in the 2016/2017 winter season.
“Winter is coming, for sure, but in Hope, at least we’re ready,” said Dicken.