After experiencing a baptism by fire last winter, AEL is confident it’s taken the necessary steps to keep West Kelowna roads as safe as possible this winter.
AEL began its road maintenance contract with West Kelowna Dec. 7, 2012. It then struggled to keep all of the district’s roads clear later that month.
“Everybody recognizes things didn’t go as smoothly as one would’ve liked from the Dec. 7 changeover,” said Chris Anderson, roads and contract supervisor for the district.
Last year the District of West Kelowna received more than 1,500 phone calls and e-mails regarding snow removal. Although there were a few compliments regarding the service being done by AEL, the majority of comments complained about roads being snowy or icy.
The comments resulted in 552 work orders being submitted to AEL by district staff.
On Jan. 22, AEL presented to council and accepted responsibility for the road maintenance issues and committed to an improved level of service for the following winter.
“After (last) winter we went through our entire fleet; we went through our staffing; we went through our supplies; we looked at our methods,” said Dustin Khadikin, contract manager for AEL.
“The guys took a huge step forward this year making sure our trucks are prepared for winter.”
As a result, AEL took out three key units, which caused workers a lot of grief last year, and brought in larger units to replace them.
The company also looked at the way it deposits snow.
“One of the frequent phone calls that we got was particularly (from residents) in cul-de-sacs,” said Khadikin.
“They felt like they were being picked on because all the snow got pushed their direction. We took all of our units and we put on two-way front plows…so we can now drag snow different directions.”
AEL will also work to keep drivers on the same routes as much as possible, so they become increasingly familiar with the areas they’re responsible for.
Mayor Doug Findlater said he looks forward to “much improved” snow removal this winter.
“It was a perfect storm last year. The contractor signed very late in the process; the operator wasn’t quite ready,” said Findlater.
“We had a pretty tough time, but there’s been a year to think about this.”
Coun. Rick de Jong said he appreciates the effort being put forward by AEL.
“When we entered into this agreement last year, it was dubbed to be a long-term business relationship,” said de Jong.
“With the communication after what took place last year and all the effort that has taken place…I’m grateful and optimistic this is going to be a much better season.”