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West Kelowna snow and ice contractor concerned with social media comments targeting his crews

Snow contractor concerned

“You will never please everybody all the time.”

That's the sentiment from Dustin Khadikin, VP of Operations for B.C. with Emcon Services, the parent company of AEL, the contractor hired by the City of West Kelowna for snow and ice control.

However, he’s defending the hard work of his drivers in unusual circumstances.

He points out they had to deal with the compounding challenges of heavy snowfall and unusually cold temperatures.

“From December 15 through to the end of the month, I think it was all but three days that had snow, whether it be a trace or some of the larger volume stuff. Then, from January first through the sixth, every day there was measurable snow at the closest weather station in West Kelowna.”

He said the snow on the ground is probably equivalent to the combined total of what fell in the two years previous.

AEL has a five-year road maintenance contract with the City of West Kelowna. It’s a fixed-rate contract, so any cost overruns related to heavy snowfall have to be paid by AEL.

“Undoubtedly we’ll be over budget this winter,” said Khadikin.

They added a couple of pieces of equipment to their fleet a few years ago and will call in extra private contractors in extreme circumstances.

He told Castanet some of the comments he’s seeing on social media from people unhappy with the state of their streets is concerning, especially when you consider most of their drivers live in the community.

“You go through social media and you see the comments, and they’re not necessarily educational based, they’re assumptions.” He’s seen everything from suggestions the company has been hit with a COVID-19 outbreak to speculation that staff members have quit because they are underpaid. Both of those assumptions are incorrect, he adds.

“It just seems that year over year, some of the people get a little almost personal with their comments.”

An Extreme Winter Weather Advisory was issued by the City of West Kelowna, and crews continue to work to get to all Priority 3 streets. If your street has not seen a plow or travel remains difficult 48 hours after the last snowfall, call the city.



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