Businesses, buses, government, schools shut down
Snowy weather continued Tuesday as the southern half of Newfoundland welcomed April with an extended stay from Old Man Winter.
In St. John’s, the weather perhaps had some people second-guessing decisions to reopen offices and businesses, only to close a few hours later.
Provincial government offices in St. John’s and Mount Pearl opened late at 1 p.m., but shut down early at 4:30 p.m.
The Avalon Mall in St. John’s delayed its opening until 11 a.m., but by 4:30 p.m. it, too, was closed for the day. Liquor stores in the
St. John’s metro area closed at
Memorial University delayed its opening until 1 p.m., but closed for the day less than four hours later. Metrobus Transit ceased its operations at 6 p.m., as did GoBus Accessible Transit.
All this because of a massive snowfall that dumped 35 centimetres on the city by 3:30 p.m., according to reports from St. John’s International Airport.
Dale Foote, Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist, said a further five centimetres was expected for the remainder of the day.
The City of St. John’s cancelled garbage collection Tuesday.
Deputy city manager of public works Paul Mackey said it was the best move to make considering the forecast. There were concerns some streets would not be ready to handle the trucks, leaving them stuck in snow.
City snowclearing services have been much criticized this winter, particularly since it was learned recently that 100 temporary snowclearing staff were laid off just before St. John’s experienced several snow-filled days, including Monday and Tuesday of this week.
“This has been a huge storm, particularly for this late in the season,” Mackey said Tuesday. “It’s been a long, extended storm, so it’s been a busy period of time for the operators. But generally speaking, it has been going pretty good. We’ve had equipment on all the routes throughout, and they managed to keep the major thoroughfares in generally pretty good driving condition for a storm of this size.”
Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay said the length of the storm places extra pressure on the city’s equipment, in addition to staff.
“We continue to get calls. People are very upset, and they have a right to be upset, but at this point in time we’re doing everything we can,” Galgay said.
Mackey said snowclearing staff have frequently worked double shifts for upwards of 16 hours over the last 10 days.
In early March, the city’s snowclearing report noted its overtime budget for snowclearing was more than $200,000 over of the projected year-to-date figure.
Mackey hoped to see crews begin work to widen roads later Tuesday evening and open lower-priority streets.
“We do try to get some of the lower-priority streets as we can, but we have to go back on the main thoroughfares again to keep those passable. Once we get into the cleanup (Tuesday night), we’ll put that effort on to open everything up.”
Consideration will be given to overnight snow-removal operations for the downtown area in a few days, he said.
“We may in fact be looking at some areas for either trucking snow or certainly blowing it back with snowblowers. It’s highly unusual at this time of year that we’ve got to be looking at that, but the fact is it’s mounting up out there again, so we have to look at it.”
While the on-street parking ban for areas outside downtown St. John’s has been lifted, Mackey said people need to keep their vehicles off the street if it will interfere with snowclearing operations.