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’s snow-clearing crews are out in full force today, with more snowfall in the forecast for Monday afternoon.

Environment Canada says another 10 to 15 centimetres of the white stuff is expected overnight.

The City of Surrey is armed with 63 pieces of winter maintenance equipment, and (literally) tonnes of salt.

“We still have a facility that holds 17,000 tonnes of salt,” said Surrey’s snow boss Ray Kerr, noting it’s all stored in a shed that was built following a particularly dreadful winter in 2010.

Despite a large dump of snow overnight Sunday, this year’s winter has been 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: Snowfall warning issued for White Rock, Surrey (Feb. 11, 2019)

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.

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.”

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

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.

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.”

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

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.

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

homelessphoto

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.”

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.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

South Surrey & White Chamber golf tournie in memory of Cliff Annable

Part proceeds to benefit White Rock pier reconstruction fund

Surrey Mountie won’t face charges for scooter scuffle

The Surrey-based IIO has decided not to forward the case to Crown counsel for review

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Pedestrian seriously injured in Surrey traffic crash

A 54-year-old man was hit by a car early Thursday evening while crossing Highway 10 at 152nd Street

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Most Read

l -->