This year Kingston’s snow plow operators have been out long before the sun comes up to clear the roads. After these last few weeks, plowing the city’s streets seems to be a around the clock job.
What many don’t know, is that a lot of work is done before the snow even starts to fall.
“So we’ll put material down on the road, and let it sit on the road,” David Shepherd, a plow operator with the City of Kingston, said.
“The cars, the traffic, when they hit the salt they actually crush it down and spread it out,” he explained.
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The City of Kingston’s website says there are roughly 1,800 kilometres of road within its boundaries, and plow operators are directed to main and arterial roads as well as bus routes first.
This means in some cases, for those living in the suburbs, residential roads are tended to last.
They also pose the biggest challenge for plow operators, especially in the inner city neighbourhoods where they have to navigate through narrow streets, or cars, which can be even more challenging.
“The worst thing we can encounter is two cars across from each other,” Shepherd said. “The front plow is 12-feet wide, and the wing when it’s down is another 10-feet on the side. Even with the wing folded up there’s places we can’t get through.”
Or when he can make it through, his plow leaves the roadside cars enclosed in a box of snow.
To avoid those situations, he encourages neighbours to park on the same side of the street to leave enough room for the plows to get through, otherwise plows may skip your street.
“You look down the street and you realize you’re just not going to get down it,” Shepherd said. “You just have to avoid that street.”
Shepherd has many streets to plow during his 12-hour shift, often more than once. The veteran clearer of snow admits he often gets the “annoying stare” from residents after he plows in their freshly-shovelled driveways. But that’s all part of trying to keep the city moving.