Amos Kahane says the hedge in his front yard has been seriously damaged due to snow being pushed back off the street. He said in previous years this hadn’t occurred. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Amos Kahane says the hedge in his front yard has been seriously damaged due to snow being pushed back off the street. He said in previous years this hadn’t occurred. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie’s snow removal a sticking point for local business owner

The current snow removal program has been in place for a full season

The snow is melting and winter appears to be at an end, but according to local Fernie business owner, Amos Kahane, the City of Fernie’s snow removal program leaves much to be desired.

Kahane, who owns a business on 2nd Ave and properties around town said that he’d struggled with the city’s snow removal policy and practice for years, but in the 2021-2022 season it appeared more damage was being done that normal due to what he called ‘aggressive’ snow plowing.

One example was the Fernie courthouse grounds, where the enclosing fence has been damaged.

“How many years has the courthouse been there, but they’ve gone and wrecked the fence now,” he said.

Snow being pushed from 4th St appears to have damaged the fencing at the 4th St entrance to the Courthouse. No other instances of damage due to snow removal appear to have occurred, but the fence is crumbling in multiple sections elsewhere.

Kahane said that city graders pushing snow had also damaged his property on 4th Ave, where the hedge at the front of his property had been folded back into his yard by the snow.

“It’s a hedge I’ve had for 22 years … now it’s going to die,” he said. At another property he owned the plants had been crushed by snow being pushed off the street. In front of his property, a two-metre tall pile of snow and ice pushed off the street remained well into late March.

Kahane said that this was the first year that such damage had been done on his street. While he said that the city’s snow removal policy wasn’t to his liking in years past – citing issues with city expectations for clearing sidewalks when city graders piled snow from the street onto them – this was the ‘straw that broke the camels back’.

The City of Fernie formally adopted a new snow removal policy in November 2021, following a two-year pilot program.

“The system the city uses to clear snow is outrageous,” he said, citing regular issues with snow pushed into his driveway whenever it snowed, explaining that even though he paid for private snow removal, city crews often came later and undid any removal already done.

“I’m not saying clean my driveway, I’m saying don’t block me in. … if you come and block me after I’m paying for someone to clean the snow, that’s not ok.”

According to a city spokesperson, the 2021-2022 season had been one of figuring out what worked and what didn’t, with a review of potential changes to be done before the next season.

The city had struggled with snow clearing over the Christmas and New Year period due to staff shortages – something that Chief Administrative Officer Michael Boronowski acknowledged at the time as being a shortfall.

For the next season, the city expects to have more operators, will be conducting a review of the fleet, and has an increased budget for snow removal (with the budget allocation for snow going up by $180,000 in the 2022 budget).

According to the city, residents with concerns about damage due to snow removal are asked to take a photo of the damage and complete a request for service form on the city website, or email snow@fernie.ca directly with any concerns.

READ MORE: Fernie adopts new snow plowing policy



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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