This file photo in Grand Pre from last winter illustrates the kind of road conditions snow plow operators and drivers had to contend with.
SCOTT'S BAY - Blowing snow stopped a school bus in its tracks recently in Scott’s Bay.
A farmer with a tractor helped out, but a stiff west wind blew snow onto many roads in Kings County.
Belinda Tupper is one of the Scott's Bay residents concerned about the condition of unplowed, snowy roads on school mornings.
She’d like to see a snow fence installed to prevent snow from piling up in several areas.
Tupper wonders if provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DOTIR) drivers are able to plow the village road before 7 a.m. so the school bus can get through.
“It is dangerous for school buses and children to have to navigate drifts to get to school. This is a long-standing issue that has gotten worse over the past few years,” Tupper says.
She says local farmers do lend aid, but that should not be necessary.
Canning resident Michael Gabriel has similar concerns.
“We've been asking, pleading, and praying for snow fencing along the dyke lands, Highway 358 for years, and the last we heard from the MLA at the time was ‘we're studying it.’ That was years ago,” he says.
Gabriel says when he speaks with people about the region, they invariably mention negotiating the dyke lands in winter.
They’ve told him, "I wouldn't live there," he says, or call winter driving in the area “scary.”
Open areas where the snow drifts endlessly are dangerous to life and property, Gabriel says, as well as a very real obstacle to potential economic development for our community and region.
Kings North MLA John Lohr said he understands that a single plow tackles the snow on Highway 358 from Greenwich all the way out to Scott’s Bay.
“Is that enough equipment?” Lohr asked. “I have the utmost respect for the snow plow drivers. They’re doing the best they can.”
Lohr also thinks snow fences might be helpful in certain problem area when the west wind is strong.
Transportation department eyeing issue
“Keeping all of our roads safe is the department’s top priority,” said transportation department spokesperson Brian Taylor, who spoke to the area office in Kings County about the issue.
“During storms, our crews operate around the clock across the county and after the snow stops, all roads are plowed and maintained to the provincial level of service standards.”
Crews and the area office were aware of the conditions Jan. 20 that caused the drifting, Taylor said. The wind has presented a challenge in several areas of the county, according to Taylor.
“Our crews were out on that road through the night, into the morning and afternoon the next day. They also brought in a grader to push back the snow banks later that afternoon,” he said.
Areas of drifting are prioritized based on volume of traffic, he said, and are considered in the context of all of the roads in the county. Staff will continue to monitor the situation and ensure the road meets the levels of service of the department.
Looking across the province, Taylor said, snow fencing “does not look like something we typically employ.”
Annapolis Valley Regional School Board communications officer Kristen Loyst said that blowing snow is part of the weather forecasts and other on-the-ground reports that we take into account when making decisions about storm days.
School bus drivers do have the ability to use their discretion on side roads, she added.
Go online: More information on the process related to winter weather and/or road conditions is available https://goo.gl/7jb9dp