Snow clearing complaints grate at plow operators
The people who clear snow from Winnipeg's streets say they're tired of the complaints residents are piling on them.
More than 350 snow plow operators clear 8,000 kilometres of streets in the city every winter, and some of them feel they've been made scapegoats of poor road conditions.
"It kind of ticks me off," Duane Payment, who has been a snow plow operator for 15 years, told CBC News.
"I spend 14, 16, 20 hours at times cleaning that stuff. It's a little disheartening to be unappreciated, I guess."
From plowing delays, to deep ruts on major streets, to windrows and snowbanks near intersections, Winnipeggers have had much to complain about when it comes to the city's snow-clearing efforts so far this winter.
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Even Mayor Sam Katz said earlier this month that the streets haven't been cleared to his satisfaction, and he put the onus on the privately contracted crews to do it right.
"They have to go back and redo it, and do it properly, or they don't get paid," he told reporters on Jan. 6.
Stories of frustrated, aggressive residents
Snow plow operators like Payment and Wally Bunskoek said they have many stories about dealing with frustration and aggression from residents and drivers.
Payment said crews can get their jobs done faster if, for example, motorists keep their distance from the snow-clearing machines.
"Slow down, stay out of our way, spend a little less time honking and more time staying back," he said.
"We'd be able to get our job done, and we'd be out of their way and everybody would be happy."
Bunskoek said while drivers generally roll with the punches, they do have pet peeves, such as motorists who don't respect grading machines.
"You're supposed to stay back 15 metres. They don't. They pull up right to the back of your machine," he said.
Plowing around parked vehicles
Peter Vogiatzakis, the owner of North Main Trucking, said the pressure crews face rises when motorists do not respect parking bans.
"Twenty minutes to do one block — it literally takes an hour, an hour and a half sometimes because you got to go around these cars," he said.
Crews also have to deal with equipment damage, which can happen when, for example, machines have to scrape snow and ice down to bare concrete.
"They rip up the ice very good. They last literally two shifts, if you're lucky," Vogiatzakis said.
He added that equipment parts start breaking when the cold sets in. A grader has been out of commission for at least a week.
Despite the stress snow-clearing crews face this and every winter, operators like Bunskoek say they continue to enjoy their work.
"I'm loving every minute of it, because this is what I love to do!"