West Kelowna council encourages residents to keep submitting snow removal complaints

Since AEL began its contract with West Kelowna Dec. 7, the district has received a long list of complaints regarding snow removal.

Vehicles drive through the snow in West Kelowna Tuesday afternoon. The district has received several complaints—and a few compliments—regarding the effectiveness of snow removal being done by the new contractor

The snow began to fall heavily almost exactly as West Kelowna council started its first meeting of 2013 Tuesday afternoon.

Fittingly, one of the first items discussed was the district’s new road maintenance contract with AEL—a division with HMC Services Inc.

Since AEL began its contract with West Kelowna Dec. 7, the district has received a long list of complaints—and a few compliments—regarding snow removal.

According to chief administrative officer Jason Johnson, district staff is working to address all submitted comments.

“There is certainly a transition as we move to a new road maintenance contractor: Getting to know the community, getting to know the different areas and different streets,” said Johnson.

“It’s very important as residents come across complaints or are concerned with snow removal, that they make those complaints directly to the District of West Kelowna.”

Johnson said an overview will be brought forward at the Jan.22 council meeting, illustrating concerns and compliments the district has received since AEL took over. A representative from AEL will be asked to attend that meeting.

Coun. Carol Zanon noted the contractor has not come into an easy situation.

“This is a new contractor and we came into this agreement with this company in good faith. They’re certainly having sort of a baptism by fire with the almost continual snowfalls we’ve had since the day they assumed responsibility,” said Zanon.

“I too would like to encourage those complaints and make sure by the time the report comes out, we have a fair (amount) of input from our public so we can find out exactly what needs improving.”

Mayor Doug Findlater said he has personally received several comments from concerned residents over the past month.

He encouraged the public to keep submitting concerns, but noted it might be wisest to communicate through e-mail.

“All e-mail complaints are being responded to in some way; not all phone calls are getting called back. If people are expecting a call back, I think they might wait a long time in some cases—it’s labour intensive,” said Findlater.

“It’s probably better to send those complaints in by e-mail. I know they’re being paid attention to.”

Complaints can be submitted to roads@districtofwestkelowna.ca. Residents can also phone in complaints at 778-797-2225 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. After hours, on weekends and holidays, residents can dial 1-866-353-3136.