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REPORTING · 27th November 2015
Walter McFarlane
On November 22nd, Kitimat Council finally was presented with a report on the February snow storm. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to receive the report on the snow storm and asked the staff to speak to several of the items about what they can do differently.

CAO Warren Waycheshen expressed the report took a while because after the strike, members of the District of Kitimat were away on vacation and staff focused on the day to day stuff.

The report came from Brian Krause, Operations Manager. “Some of the recommendations that have come forward were a result of the post snow meeting and the pre snow meetings for this year,” said Krause.

The report explains the background. The weather forecasts were predicting a range of snowfalls. Snow began on February 5th at 8:00 am and they decided to get an early start on removal rather than wait for 12.5 Cm. However, 4 workers were tied up in negotiations, one employee was sick and there were two vacant positions.

By 1:00 pm, it was realized that keeping up with the snowfall was a losing battle and the District called Daudet Contracting to help. There were not enough people to run the Districts equipment and monitor the radios and phones.

In the morning of February 6th, the power went out which affected the District of Kitimat’s fuel supply. When power was restored to Service Centre, they were able to get fuel. It is noted that a member of the District had to snow shoe into the water pumps to manually reset them.

Even with the help from the industries, there was slow progress. The following reasons are given for the slow progress.

“The amount of snow, abandoned cars on the streets (main roads and side streets), people driving vehicles, snowmobiles and atvs, contractors unfamiliar with locations of infrastructure buried in the snow,” wrote Krause.

Streets were finished on Friday, February 13th and walkways by the 16th. The crews took a long deserved rest. The machines suffered breakdowns during the storm. The report recommended additional chains for the graders, which will be purchased this year. It also recommended reviewing the policy on how much snow is on the ground before they deploy and possibly creating a new route to shorten existing ones.

“Communication for one, was something I heard had a lot of negative feedback,” said Feldhoff. “Not everybody’s on Twitter and I raised the thought about having a reverse 911 or some kind of method for a snow storm or some kind of emergency or something that we need to inform the public on. I know these things are in use in other communities.”

Feldhoff asked if there would a separate report on a reverse 911 system. The response from Waycheshen explained there are some staff members who have been looking at it and could select one in the next week that could offer the service.

He explained it would be populated by people in the white pages. However, there are people who do not have land lines and are connected through social media. Waycheshen added people without landlines could also be put into the system.

“It should be operational by the end of this year,” said Waycheshen.

Councillor Mary Murphy said all of the deficiencies listed in the report were under the control of the District of Kitimat. She said communication was a big deficiency and there is a committee looking at communication which will possibly be funded by government dollars. She hoped to get all the residents in town into a database for communication.

“The other thing that was not addressed is the fuel supply when the electricity was shut off,” said Murphy. “I didn’t see anything in the conclusion on how to deal with that.”

Council was told by Krause they had some discussion on having a separate fuel tank at the yard, but there were a lot of issues around having their own fuel storage and it is easier to go to other locations. This was the only time where they did not have fuel for an extended period of time.

Mayor Phil Germuth asked if they fuel up when a major storm is coming. The reply was they have extra fuel tanks which they use to fuel up and they also fuel up the machinery at the end of a shift.

Councillor Edwin Empinado expressed there are some things they have not addressed, such as using contractors and the local industries in the case of an emergency. The report stated they were unfamiliar with the locations and infrastructure. He suggested briefing them so they can be included in the workforce responding to large snowfalls.

He was told by Krause the contractors who are on their snow clearing list have applied to be on the list. They are brought in on an emergency basis and he did not expect this to happen again.

“To have them fully knowledgeable about the town would be difficult. Some of these contractors were only here for a short time and they’ve already left,” said Krause.

Feldhoff asked about the crew size. He was told by Waycheshen they were down two employees which have since been hired. He was also told there are times when employees are out sick, and the amount of snow, 6.2 feet, was a significant number.

“We have received a lot of snow on occasion in the past but I don’t recall ever seeing what happened earlier this year and I would hope that there is still coming to us a criteria for what is the criteria for declaring an emergency,” said Feldhoff.

He stated the contractors getting involved made a large difference. He also wanted to know what the role of council would be in the case of an emergency.

Councillor Larry Walker, on the topic of abandoned vehicles, stated he has little sympathy for the people who broke the law and parked on the street, knowing in the winter time, they have to move it. He expressed there is an enforcement problem.

He also said they have to address people using snowmobiles and ATVs to get around town during the blizzard. They may have to put bylaws in place.

“I just about got ran down today by a guy on a motor scooter going down into the ditch. He came over the top and he was two feet off the ground,” said Walker.

He noted in the report that the sidewalks were the last to be cleaned. He asked about having them doing them first to open up foot traffic when the roads are blocked off. However, he did not know what a good answer would be.

Walker also pointed out he witnessed a snow blower outside his place break down three times, a sheer pin breaking because it could not get through the snow bank. He suggested getting a bobcat to break up the snow.

Murphy wanted to make sure the Mayor was at the command centre. She said she was concerned with the recommendation for $1,000,000 worth of equipment.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked about the policy relating to how deep the snow has to be before they send out the trucks. He asked if there was flexibility to deploy below the mark set by Council.

“If we’ve only got a little bit of snow, but we know we’re going to keep coming, we’re going to be out there, we’re not waiting for the 12 and a half,” said Waycheshen.

Council discussed the two positions which were hired. Councillor Mario Feldhoff added there needed to be further discussion on manning and where they want to make changes in how manpower is deployed. Mayor Germuth asked if they can move people from other departments to shovelling and clearing. This question went unanswered.

The motion was called and carried.
response no one cares
Comment by Response no one cares on 5th December 2015
Here's an idea

How about you both shut up already with the back and forth over where so and so's dogs are crapping.

Oh and FYI its so very stalkerish and creepy reading how someone knows more about Larry Walkers whereabouts than google maps does.

response lll
Comment by response lll on 4th December 2015
Larry, I've seen you walking your dogs between the fields in the "forbidden area" quite often. In between the Soccer field and the Ball fields. There were times when your dogs have been spotted running ON the fields.
Response III
Comment by Larry on 3rd December 2015
Maybe I wasn't as clear as I should have been ....when referring to outside the fence I was speaking about the property backing on to the lower Dyke Road which is well known as an area you can run your dogs freely without having to bother with dog droppings. Makes sense?
response III
Comment by kitimat first on 2nd December 2015
larry, how do you justify your response to interesting II when outside the fence is on DOK property ? and do you realize outside the fence is for people a responsible pet owner and pickup after your pet instead of finding excuses ! hope this alleviates DOK bylaws that you have problems with.
In Response to "Interesting II
Comment by Larry on 30th November 2015
Yes, we do respect the bylaw to pick up dog feces and if you took the time to watch us you would see it is being done on a regular basis. Yes, we do walk the dogs in the baseball/soccer parks....but normally in the areas surrounding these facilities (outside the fences). And no, we do not pick up the feces in that area as it is not necessary or required. We do use the playing areas in the winter when the sport season is over but do religiously pick up any droppings. Hope this alleviates your concerns and fears.
Interesting II
Comment by Funny Guy on 29th November 2015
Councillor Larry Walker says he has little sympathy for the people who broke the law. Isn't there a by law in this town regarding the picking up after your dog? That is a type of law isn't it?,...and a law you should practice every morning when you walk your dogs on the soccer and ball fields, where they are prohibited from being on as well.
Kitimat From a Dream to a Nightmare
Comment by The Seeker on 27th November 2015
If I remember correctly the union claimed in the beginning of contract talks that the city was running with a skeleton crew at the yard and needed more manpower. The city had three years to plan for contract talks and when a storm hits they try and blame negotiations for not having enough manpower, give me a break. I remember that the union suspended negotiations so that their bargaining team could help out with snow clearing, but you don't hear that in the report. It was obvious that we don't have enough manpower or the right equipment. The new municipal manager says we were short on manpower because workers may get sick, is this guy out to lunch? If the town gets crippled by a couple of workers getting sick maybe we don't have enough manpower, SMARTYPANTS! Krause says two new employees would cost $300K a year, where did this guy go to school? Must have been the same school as Bernie Madoff. The mayor, this next one is the clincher, the mayor asked if they could move people from other departments to shovelling and clearing. Is this guy on crack again, the union went out on strike to get part time workers more hours. Did the mayor not watch any of the worker's video testimonials. One of the ladies on the video said she has been working part time for over twenty years and she would get laid off in the winter and the city wouldn't let her work shovelling snow. In the videos the workers all talked about that they had proposals in to make it possible for part time workers to be utilized in all areas of the city. I can't believe this wasn't allowed before. I am told that the union was able to bargain this and it was one of the reasons that the strike lasted for so long. How is it that the mayor doesn't know this? He prolonged this strike by not being willing to budge and six months later he doesn't know what the hell is in the contract. This kind of hypocrisy is why we had to live without our services for three months and this idiotic mismanagement is why it was impossible to be prepared for this snow storm. At least Ron Pool had the decency to resign.
Comment by morganhorse on 27th November 2015
Did the report cover the fact that Mayor and Council refused to listen to DOK workers prior to the storm, thereby rendering them ineffectual? Or mention that they didn't even have a contract at the time due to lack of respect from management? And parked on the street in winter and those that were stuck in the middle of the road are totally different. You'd have to be a very dull bulb to confuse the two.

Wonderful to make plans now for any future events that might come at us, and the reverse 911 is a great idea...but first and foremost we need to maintain training, openness, and respect for those who actually go out there and clear the snow. THEY are the ones with the valuable experience, and THEY are the ones who can tell us first what needs to be done in preparation of disasters such as this one.

I hope that they were given their say as far as this report goes.
snow storm feb 5 / 2015
Comment by richard on 27th November 2015
well how does one start .ty Mr Krause for your two cents . let me tell you . I lost my father due to that storm . after doing my research I found out mr Krause had made the call to wait. feb 7 I snow shoed into my dad`s resendents to prove hot food and medical care work. I did this for my dad for over the past few yrs since we lost ma in 2012. on this day feb 7 th dad was looking pretty rough and I tried to get him out of the house to the hospital nite before. he said , we`ll just wait for the snow removal to clean the streets. he`d go to hospital. when I arrived the next morning , dad looked pretty bad. I walked in from the main road , saw brian watkita and told him I needed to get a amblance to dad asap . brian plowed out the road so when it was cleaned I call for the ambulance . doctors said a few more hours and he would have past away. he had internal bleeding. he had about 3 and a half pints of blood left . almost bleed to death. no hydro , the house was cold. with great pain trying to understand why the roads were not clean as in the past was beyond me . never happen before in all the yrs I lived here. I drove around and only saw one blower , over by backster apt. not much was been done . when I enguired about it ,I could get any answers of why no snow removal was been done . I find out months later mr Krause made the call . wait till the next morning. nice call . that was . there was only a few workers in the yard. one of them told mr. Krause that it was a bad thing and they should get out there. they where told to wait . them few hours could have made a difference in my fathers death.. sorry but disappointed in the delay in our removal process. R.I.P. DAD . I`ll never forget them few days I spent with him , trying to comfort him through that storm of 2015. .... just have one thing to say it better not happen to anyone again. this is a simple reminder of , quit cutting corners ,as it could cost another family there loved one . that`s my two cents and , mark my words , tax payers deserve better. excuses don`t cut it. hopefully a lesson was learned. could have been your loved one . Rants Over
Out of touch
Comment by Started at the bottom on 27th November 2015
So it's proposed that sidewalks be done first? Please explain how one would then get to work at the industries??? Be a awfully long walk, and when the sidewalk ends at service centre, then what?

So little sympathy for people who abandoned vehicles, well they were abandoned for a reason, THEY WERE STUCK. Let's start ticketing them says the councillor, that's like charging a dead person for loitering.
Another brilliant idea. Let's make a by law against ATVs and snow machines, well they were the only thing moving, and helped out evacuating people, delivering medications, and getting the firefighters to the fire on Oriole St.

It was a disaster, the people of Kitimat came together and coped as best they could, everyone helping everyone else. I helped dig out four driveways with seniors who were shut in behind five feet of snow, who had been forgotten. The look of panic and then thankfulness when we knocked on doors will not be soon forgotten.
The District of Kitimat dodged a bullet on this, they were totally unprepared and unorganized. We have had snowfalls like that before, and we have had five feet on the ground before a major storm, but the series of screw ups and events that were in your control must never be allowed to happen. Please explain why you did not have enough manpower?
How did you get fuel before during a power failure?

And why did it take almost ten months to get the report, oh right, holidays and negotiations and stuff, and what were some of the fundamental reasons for the disaster, holidays, negotiations and stuff.

Mustn't ask the people....
Comment by Mr Nobody on 27th November 2015
I must have missed the invitation from Council to attend an after-snow-storm meeting, so that I and any others interested could have contributed to the disussion. When was that meeting, anyway? Oh...there wasn't one? I was just supposed to tallk to a Councillor or Mayor? And hope that my concerns were heard and given voice?

Given Councils response to other Community issues, I mustn't be surpised.