Vernon and North Okanagan News
Snow plow issue ongoing
After our initial story Wednesday morning of a family trapped by snow on Silver Star Mountain, more mountain users have come forward claiming this is not an isolated issue.
As it turns out, many are feeling neglected and trapped by the lack of snow removal and road maintenance on Silver Star Mountain including the mountain itself who says enough is enough.
“This has been an ongoing issue (snow removal and road maintenance) all season. I have several documented incidents/e-mails where myself on behalf of the Resort, as well as local residents have contacted JPW (snow removal contractor) as well as the Ministry of Transportation from now back to December regarding poor road conditions,” explained Brad Baker, Acting GM of Silver Star Ski Resort.
He agrees that the service gets worse when the mountain closes for the season, but says it's a year round problem.
“As an example, over the Christmas period, our busiest, the roads in the residential areas up here were so narrow that there were areas that two opposing vehicles could not pass. Pedestrians were seen hopping onto snow banks to avoid vehicles. We even went as far as contacting the Office of the Premier asking for action,” said Baker who added the picture above as proof of road conditions on Dec 28, 2013.
He claims he even met with Ministry staff yesterday early in the afternoon and warned them the roads were treacherous and they needed to send someone up as soon as possible, he says they promised a JPW standtruck/plow would now be assigned to the area well into May.
“We may be closed for skiing at the moment, but we still have upwards of 60 staff that commute up and down here daily. This is not just a ski resort, it’s a community, and an economic engine that deserves the same level of service 12 months of the year as residents and businesses in the valley expect and receive,” argued Baker.
“The situation has been downright dangerous at times, with the roads to the point where emergency vehicles responding on the roads would be severely challenged to get to their destination. It seems to be all a budgetary matter. We place the safety of our guests, staff and residents at the top of the list in everything we do at the Resort and we are concerned for everybody about this ongoing road maintenance issue.”
Matt Olson also lives up the mountain and says he has been trapped in his home for two days at a time.
“I live on Hartnell Road and it is very steep with lots of quick sharp curves and it can be very dangerous,” explained Olson. “But it is considered a secondary road and does not get taken care of.
Castanet contacted JPW, they told us to talk to the ministry responsible.
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.
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