After the storm: Where does the snow go?

Parked cars the biggest obstacle as city crews move beyond snow plowing to clearing away accumulated snow.

Cleanup after heavy storms is a major job for municipal workers

A building snow pile in front of the Hamilton city centre building on York Blvd. Feb.5, 2014 (Sola DaSilva)

Getting main streets and residential neighbourhoods cleared of snow is an enormous relief to commuters and pedestrians alike.

But what does the City of Hamilton do with the white stuff once it’s out of the way?

The remnants of heavy winter storms have to go somewhere, and it’s Bob Paul’s job to figure out where.

Paul, the city’s acting manager of Winter Control Operations, says that, “roadways are the number one priority” in storm cleanup.

One the roads are open, the focus shifts to getting rid of accumulated snow and working on other areas of snow clearance.

After heavy snowfall, trucks typically haul loads of snow during “nighttime operations” to one of three dumping sites around the city. The primary location is on Stuart Street, and other sites are on Upper Ottawa and on Brock Road in Flamborough.

Paul said that after the major roadways are cleared, crews “are back in clearing municipally owned sidewalks, clearing the bus stops…as well as plows continuing to go through the roadway network.”

Too Little Salt

Hamilton is currently under a salt conservation strategy; extreme weather has prevented the city’s main supplier from delivering the amount of salt that the city had expected.

Hamilton residents can help play their part in facilitating effective storm cleanup, too.

“It would help in our plowing operation and our cleanup operation if residents could get vehicles off the roadway. We’re having difficulties getting our plows through especially now that our storage lanes are being reduced because of the amount of snow we’ve experienced this year and the parked cars on the side of the road aren’t’ helping us.”

Asked which neighbourhood of the city is the most notorious culprit, Paul was diplomatic.

“Residential, subdivision, downtown…everywhere it’s like that.”

Having had to wrestle with a walloping meteorological season, Paul told CBC News that he and his team will, at the end of the season, “sit down and analyze our response, material use time, and make any program adjustments, if warranted, for the coming year.”