Surrey has launched a Snow Plow Tracker tool this year. (Photo: 511portal.com/surrey)

Surrey has launched a Snow Plow Tracker tool this year. (Photo: 511portal.com/surrey)

Winter

Armed with 17,000 tonnes of salt, Surrey launches snow plow tracker

City has launched an online tool so residents can keep tabs on where snow trucks are and see which roads have been plowed

Surrey hasn’t seen snow yet this year “which is awesome,” chuckled Ray Kerr, the city’s snow removal boss, or manager of engineering operations as he’s more formally known.

But the team is armed with 63 pieces of winter maintenance equipment, ready to go at a moment’s notice, and (literally) tonnes of salt.

“We still have a facility that holds 17,000 tonnes of salt,” said Kerr, noting it’s all stored in a shed that was built following a particularly dreadful winter in 2010. “We have a full inventory as we speak. We’re ready to go.”

But there’s not much snow in the forecast this winter.

“It’s nice to get blessed with this the odd year,” said Kerr.

“The forecast is generally what we deem an average winter, which is typically three snow events. Some years, there’s a lot of ice and snow, it really varies. We do celebrate quite a bit, when we’re heading into December and at this point, there’s no snow.”

This year is nothing like the record-breaking snow season two years ago, which saw a 44-day cold snap from Dec. 4, 2016 to Jan. 16, 2017, in which temperatures in Surrey were at or below zero degrees Celsius. That was the longest duration of freezing temperatures since 1984 – and more snow fell in the city after that.

People were ice skating on city streets.

See also: Wondering why your Surrey street hasn’t been snow plowed? Here’s why

See also: Surrey getting new tool to clear snow from sidewalks

See also: Remember to clear snow from your sidewalks, Surrey

Near the end of that winter, city crews had to resort to a salt-and-sand mix, rationing to ensure salt didn’t run out.

While the city uses roughly 8,000 tonnes of salt in a “typical” winter, it used more than 20,000 that year and was one of – if not the only – city that didn’t run out of salt in the region.

“I know it’s coming, sooner or later,” said Kerr of this season’s snowfall. “Hopefully it happens prior to Christmastime. Staff put in a ton of time as it is, with respect to winter maintenance. If fortunate enough, they won’t have to do it on Christmas Day. That’s always my hope, so people can spend Christmas morning with family.”

Kerr pointed residents’ attention to an updated city website with “a lot more information with respect to how and why we do what we do.”

And, the city has launched an online tool allowing people to track Surrey’s snow plows online.

It’s not in live time, but Kerr said it’s “pretty close.”

“There’s a bit of a delay but they can take a look at the routes that have been done, and within what time frame. It’s fantastic. It’s called 511,” he added.

See it for yourself at 511portal.com/surrey, AKA Surrey Plow Tracker.

Meantime, a pilot project launched last year to clear sidewalks in City Centre is continuing this winter.

“We had picked up a multi-purpose piece of equipment. It can plow, so it can be used to plow sidewalks. It also has pressure washing capabilities,” said Kerr, noting the machine can also drop salt. “My hope is following this winter, I should have enough of a business case to order a couple more. From what I’ve seen so far it’s a great piece of equipment.”

homelessphoto

(Surrey’s tool to clear sidewalks this winter, as part of a pilot project launched last year. Photo: City of Surrey)

This winter, it will be out and about clearing snow (whenever it arrives) from sidewalks and walkways in City Centre.

“It was assigned to that area near SkyTrain and the university. There’s major mainstream pedestrian walkways, that’s why we put it there.”

Kerr laughed as he said the city would likely never get to the point where they’ll remove snow from all city sidewalks, which is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, as per city bylaw.

See also: Surrey getting new tool to clear snow from sidewalks

That’d be a lot of sidewalks, given Surrey’s streets alone are a whopping 4,500 lane kilometres.

“Roads are our top priority,” said Kerr. “We still base our winter operations on getting priority one or two roads dealt with quickly.”

A few years ago, Surrey started using liquid salt brine in addition to traditional road salt.

As Kerr explained it, the brine “puts a skim coat on the pavement,” making it difficult for ice to form. And, it makes snow easier to plow.

“It’s absolutely fantastic, it just melts the snow away. So if we have weather that’s cold and dry, we can put brine down. But if it’s wet, then you don’t have that opportunity.”

Kerr had this reminder for residents, for when the snow begins to fall: “Please get out, shovel the sidewalks and look to your neighbour and help them. Especially if you have an elderly couple living beside you, help them as well. And be patient. I think we do a tremendous job… but we can’t be everywhere at once.”

The city has budgeted $3.7 million for snow removal this year.

How does Surrey prioritize which roads to plow?

The City of Surrey doesn’t typically deal with residential road clearing because the weather usually warms up or rain will melt the snow.

When snow falls, Surrey splits its roads into three priority groups to ensure major routes get cleared first.

There are “first-priority” roads in the city – key arteries that are used by large numbers of drivers. They include main roads, bus routes and roads with steep hills. Roads fronting and/or leading to schools and long-term care facilities are also included.

“Second-priority” roads are remaining arterial and collector routes. These include local connector roads in residential areas.

But if winter weather returns, crews revert back to focusing on first priority roads.

To reach the City of Surrey’s service request line, call 604-591-4152. It’s open Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After hours, the line switches to the fire base to respond to emergencies.

See the map below for priority routes in Surrey, or click here for a map that viewers can zoom in on.

homelessphoto

Click here to read more about Surrey’s winter, snow and ice control operations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)
Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read