Gabriel Nava, operations manager for AIM Roads stands in front of a tow plow in the company’s yard in Sicamous on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. (Cameron Thomson - Salmon Arm Observer)

AIM Roads responds to abuse of staff, public frustrations in Okanagan-Shuswap

Residents asked to be patient and respectful of workers

Along with responding to recent snowfall that has hammered the Okanagan-Shuswap, the province’s highway maintenance contractor has also been replying to a storm of public criticism.

Gabriel Nava, AIM Roads operations manager for the region, said while he would not consider any of the calls received by the contractor’s hotline to be threatening, he said some have been aggressive.

Nava said callers have also blamed AIM Roads for their loss of power during hydro outages, a service not within AIM Roads’ responsibility.

“There is a lot of good feedback and there are some people getting tired of the snow – that’s what I will call the frustration coming through,” Nava said. “I just think people need to be a little bit more patient and understand the situation is all over.”

Read more: AIM Roads ready to tackle winter on Shuswap highways

Read more: Roads contractor waits for snow removal equipment as winter looms

Nava explained if someone calls to report severe road conditions and they do not hear back from the contractor, the delay is due to the number of calls being received at the same time. Sometimes when AIM Roads telephone operators do get back to callers the response is less than positive.

“We try to address the concerns and let them talk, but when we try to explain anything we are being blamed,” he said.

Despite this, Nava is trying to focus on the positive, recalling a driver who told him of a woman who rushed out of her home to bring them cookies and thank them for the service.

Read more: AIM Roads Inc. helps improve access to Malakwa Community Park

Read more: AIM Roads apologizes ‘deeply’ for missed roads in Vernon area

The road clearing has been made challenging not just by the amount of snow, but also the colder temperatures that came with it. The brine solution used by AIM Roads is effective at keeping the roads clear of ice and snow to -9 C, beyond this the contractor is left to plow and lay down abrasive sand.

“In some sections they were rough, I agree, during the heavy snowfall, but after the last snowflake hits the ground, in 24 hours we were running the highways,” Nava said of the contractor’s response to the most recent snowstorm experienced in the region. “I have a plan of attack after these extreme temperatures start dropping and coming to warmer temperatures.”

Read more: Highways contractor’s performance leaves rural Shuswap residents cold

Read more: Shuswap-Okanagan highways contractor has ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse

AIM Roads is obligated by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation to focus on specific roadways in a snow event. One such specification laid out by the ministry is the maximum amount of snow allowed to accumulate before the contractor is required to plow. A ‘Class A’ roadway, one that has over 5,000 daily commuters, has a maximum allowable accumulation of four centimetres for one lane going each way and must be plowed within 90 minutes.

School bus and industrial traffic routes fall within the ‘Class C’ category and have an allowable accumulation of 10 cm for one lane going each way and must be cleared within six hours. Classes D, E and F, which include irregularly maintained winter routes, do not have specified allowable accumulations and timeframes.

Read more: Traffic delays reported on Highway 1 east of Sicamous, semi-trailer in ditch

Read more: New Okanagan highway maintenance contractor fails to meet sweeping targets

Nava said all of AIM Roads’ 113 vehicles are working the highways with the help of 11 different contractors.

“One thing that I think people are missing is the snowpack is already going beyond accumulations than in the past. Our snow quantities are getting big and everyone can see that,” Nava said.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen cancels April 2 meeting

Staff working to install videoconferencing system during COVID-19 pandemic

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

Fundraising initiative created to help during COVID-19

Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen working with other organizations

Interior Health Authority to hold virtual town hall with local MLAs

The town hall will run from 6 to 7 p.m. online on March 27

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read