Vernon and North Okanagan News
Rescued from snow storm
UPDATE 12:30 P.M.
Steve Darby says they are now able to safely get down the road after the snow clearing crew got to their home just after 11 a.m.
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has replied to the situation with the following points.
- The safety of our highways is our top priority, and the ministry’s maintenance contractor is always ready to respond with snow clearing activities, regardless if the resort is open or closed.
- In this case, the maintenance contractor was aware of the snow forecast and had a truck and operator working overnight on Silver Star Rd, along with a second truck on stand-by.
- The storm dropped more snow than expected with a total of 35cm of wet heavy snow throughout the overnight period.
- The maintenance contractor mobilized the second truck and a grader this morning to assist with snow clearing.
- The priority was to maintain the primary access road, and crews are now completing the cleanup on the local side roads in the area
Have you been snowed in at Silver Star or other local mountains and feel the clearing crews don't get there fast enough once the mountains close for the season? Email us at [email protected]
Vernon paramedic Steve Darby is chomping at the bit to get his road cleared after 13 inches trapped his family in their home on Silver Star Mountain.
He says he has made dozens of calls for help, many unanswered, and all promise that it would be cleared up by Wednesday morning have been broken.
“Since 6 p.m. last night I have called JPW dispatch (The Ministry of Transportation contractor for the area) and asked why our road hadn't be plowed and yet Silver Star Road had been plowed at least twice and looks like it had been sanded as well,” said Darby.
“I have had to leave message after message and I am really fed up,” he adds.
Darby says his wife, kids, and in-laws were able to get up the road, Purcell Drive, before 5 p.m. safely but by the time he got home it was no longer drive-able.
“I came home from a shift at about 7 p.m. and could not make it up my road so I had to walk over a kilometre home and leave my car down on Silver Star Road,” said Darby.
He phoned several other times in the evening and spoke to different dispatchers. He says he was ensured each time that crews were working through the night and his road would be cleared by morning.
“At about 9 p.m. an employee from JPW called and and I addressed my concerns with him. He said there would be a plow working through the night and that my road would be cleared,” explained Darby. “Then I woke up this morning at 8 a.m. and my road had not been touched.”
He measured the snow on the road it was over 13 inches or 33 centimetres.
“I can't get to work, I am a paramedic at the Vernon station for BC Ambulance and I have a shift that I would like to make.”
He says four households on his street are occupied year-round and are all snowed-in and affected. He believes this is a serious danger if someone were to need emergency assistance.
“It just seems like they don't care. This happens every spring after Silver Star Mountain closes that the snow plows have a very delayed response time, like we don't matter,” said Darby in frustration.
“There are permanent residents that live up here year-round. There are families that live up here. If you ever needed to get an ambulance up here in a snow storm like this, it is not going to happen, it is a real safety concern.”
JPW Road and Bridge Inc. told Castanet on the phone that they have crews in the area dealing with this flash storm, saying they have had crews there working all night long and they are getting to everyone as soon as they can.
As of 11 a.m. Darby says he saw the crew coming up his road, several hours after he and his neighbours and children had to be down the mountain for work and school. He says even the grader is having issues getting up the road.
“It drives us crazy. JPW (Argo before them) have delayed response times when Silver Star Mountain closes. There are families that live up here with little kids. The school bus comes all the way up to the main parking lot to pick the kids up. There are huge safety concerns,” added Darby in frustration.
The Ministry of Transportation is looking into the situation and will get back to Castanet with their response.
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