Saskatchewan

Swift Current, Maple Creek municipal, school board elections postponed due to snowstorm

The winter storm buffeting Saskatchewan has forced the City of Swift Current to postpone its municipal and school board elections.

Swift Current first responders urge residents to stay home, keep roads open for emergencies

This photo by a Swift Current resident shows the heavy snow that fell on the city just in time for civic election day. (@ours_calin/Twitter)

The winter storm buffeting Saskatchewan has led the City of Swift Current and Town of Maple Creek to postpone their respective municipal and school board elections.

Freezing rain and snow have hit southern and central Saskatchewan hard since Sunday morning. As a result, election returning officers in Swift Current and Maple Creek decided to postpone and reschedule the respective municipal elections, which were both originally slated for Monday.

"That call was made ... based on the fact that our roads, for the most part, are almost impossible at this time," Michael Boutilier, spokesperson for the City of Swift Current, said Monday morning, adding that polling station workers weren't physically able to get to polling stations.

"Our crews are really working hard on the main arterial roads clear, as well as areas where emergency services vehicles will need to be able to move about should they be called upon.... [the postponement] will give our crews enough time to make a lot more progress in terms of the clearing."

The delay should help ensure a solid voter turnout, Boutilier added.

Swift Current's election has been pushed to Thursday, Nov. 12.

The city's three polling stations — Innovation Credit Union i-Plex Auditorium, Chinook Golf Course Clubhouse and Trailview Alliance Church — will be open on Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

Swift Current's returning officer is working with election workers to ensure they can still man the polls Thursday, Boutilier said. The city will make an announcement if a situation arises with any of the polling stations.

Meanwhile, Maple Creek, a town about 350 kilometres southwest of Regina, is also postponing its municipal election due to weather, it announced Monday morning.

The election has been moved to Monday, Nov. 16.

The polling station at the Armoury will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

First responders urge residents to stay home

Hutch Ambulance Service, the paramedic service in Swift Current, a city nearly 230 kilometres west of Regina, is urging locals to stay indoors until the weather improves because first responders are resorting to "alternative means" to answer calls.

"We had quite a few problems just getting around the city [last night]," said Duane Doane, intermediate care paramedic with Hutch. "Most of the roads that we were trying to get down were impassable, and at times we had issues with reaching some of our calls that we were getting dispatched to."

Duane Doane standing outside the paramedic station in Swift Current. He is about five-foot-seven, he says. (Submitted by Duane Doane)

Duane Doane has never seen a snowfall like this since he moved to Swift Current in 1989. Doane estimates that about 40 to 50 centimetres of snow was on the ground outside of the ambulance station. At times, it reached his waist, he said.

Hutch posted a photo on its Facebook page of two crew members who arrived at the station Sunday night via snowmobile because of the road conditions in Swift Current.

Paramedics responding to calls throughout the night were often travelling through knee-high snow. The heavy ambulances "were just pretty much sinking," said Doane, and had to maneuver around other vehicles that got stuck on the road.

"It became a point of having to get them to to move out of the way so that we can carry on, because once you lose momentum, you're stuck. So it was a huge issue," said Doane, adding that the local fire and police departments dealt with the same issues.

"We had to even called the radio station earlier today just to advise people to stay at home if they could, because obviously we need to get to where we need to go."

Doane hasn't counted the exact number of calls that have come in during the storm, but it was an average night, he said.

In the event that roads are impassable, firefighters and paramedics have handful of Ski-Doos at their disposal to respond to calls. But Doane says they have not been needed yet. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter with CBC Edmonton. Hailing from Newfoundland, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school. He has worked for CBC newsrooms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Prior to joining the CBC, he interned at the Winnipeg Free Press.

With files from Ethan Williams

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