Edmonton contractor frustrated that majority of city's snow storage yards are closed

A private snow clearing contractor is frustrated that three of the city's four snow storage facilities are closed. The city said the ground is too soft to support large equipment.

City administration said the ground is not frozen enough to support large equipment

Trucks holding snow wait in a line on the road.
Trucks wait in line to dump snow at a City of Edmonton snow storage facility last winter. (Submitted by Will Horner)

It may be frigid outside, but not frozen enough for the City of Edmonton's snow storage yards. 

Three of the four facilities are closed because the ground is too soft to support large equipment, according to Valerie Dacyk, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations. 

Only the Horsehills site, located 20 kilometres from the city core, is open which makes it the furthest site.

The closures are frustrating Will Horner, whose property management company HHS Contracting, removes snow for commercial clients.

Horner said travelling to and from Horsehills and waiting in long lineups at the facility delays his crews and increases costs for clients paying hourly rates. 

"We just don't understand why in a winter city — the city is not prepared to open dumps and certainly open dumps that are actually within, let's say, the boundaries of the Anthony Henday," he told CBC News on Wednesday.

Two of the closed snow storage sites are on the south side and the other is in the west end.

Horner said he had crews working in south Edmonton on Tuesday night and instead of driving 10-15 minutes to one of the two closer facilities, they drove an hour to reach Horsehills, which is about seven kilometres north of the Henday, near the hamlet of Namao. The round-trip took about two hours.

"When there's only one snow dump open and everyone's going to that same dump, the lines can be incredibly long," he said.

Dacyk said the city tried to open more locations but closed them after vehicles got stuck.

Construction equipment operates on a mountain of snow.
One of the City of Edmonton's snow storage facilities, seen here last winter, is on Ellerslie Road. The facility is currently closed to the public. (Submitted by Will Horner)

Horner said he understands the city's explanation, but not why the closed sites are sitting empty, with no signs of workers preparing equipment and lighting. 

Dacyk addressed the concern by stating the Horsehills site can handle current snow loads from the city and contractors.

"We will continue to monitor and open them as soon as we possibly can," she said.


Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news for CBC Edmonton's web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at madeleine.cummings@cbc.ca.