Big Times In The Suncatch

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As the icy grasp of winter slowly thaws, Directors for Public Works in Morden and Winkler say snow removal has gone well this year.

After saving money in 2017, Winkler Public Works Director Peter Froese says it's too soon to say they can do it again with March and the rest of the fiscal year ahead. However, the possibility of staying under budget isn't too far from reality.

"It’s been going really well, we haven't had a lot of snow. A little here, a little there, and the guys have been cleaning up as we go. Budget wise we're good, we put a few dollars away from last year. So far this year has been kind of quiet, but we're not through March yet."

Les Wieler, Director of Public Works for Morden, says they haven't calculated numbers for the budget, but doesn't imagine there will be any issues, and will likely be under budget compared to last year.

However, with the unpredictability of winter weather in the Pembina Valley, new solutions are looked for to increase efficiency.

A beet juice-sand mixture has been used in some communities in Manitoba for its increase in efficiency, melting ice in temperatures down to minus 40, compared to a salt-sand mixture which loses its effectiveness below minus 20 degrees.

The RM of La Broquerie launched a pilot project testing the new mixture last year, touting its eco-friendly qualities and the added benefit of not leaving sand on the roads.

Wieler says they have looked into using the beet juice mixture for its effectiveness and as a more environmentally friendly option, but the price tag just doesn't make it economically viable, especially when having to reapply after each snowfall.

"The issue with beet juice being so expensive is it does a better job than salt, but the problem is if you put it down, as long as it doesn't snow, it’s good. Let’s say we get a snowfall every two days, the cost of it is double or triple what conventional salt-sand would be."

Another method Morden has been looking at increasing efficiency for snow removal is the addition of a parking-ban.

snow rutsFile Photo: The ban has been in effect for a number of years but this year fines have been increased.
With a member of the snow-removal team towing vehicles, plows no longer have to move around vehicles, and return to remove the missed snow the following day.

Wieler says they don't want to tow vehicles, but this new system has been working well for them.

The ban goes from October 31st to April and gives Public works the right to tow any vehicles obstructing a snow route.

Currently, Winkler does not have a parking-ban, with Froese saying plowing around vehicles and returning the following day works for them, but he encourages people not to park on the street while there is snow.

With the levels of snow this year both Morden and Winkler Public Works have been able to complete other jobs over the winter they normally would not be able to with large quantities of snow.

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