Snow stops services

Andrew Robinson
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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

5 p.m.

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.

See related video Snowy St. John's

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Environment Canada

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • Equal Rights
    April 02, 2014 - 21:19

    Living in Kenmount Terrace there should be equal rights when it comes to snow clearing. In order to get out of my little driveway I have to shovel at least 8 feet out into the road to get out. I can understand the sidewalks not being done, but come on. Why should I have to clear the road in order to get out? I a fed up with the cowpaths since I moved into this neighborhood and it's time that someone is held accountable for the poor job being done.

  • Jean
    April 02, 2014 - 15:00

    "When"..."If"...they get around to it, it would be nice when doing a cul de sac to come closer then 12-14 feet to the sidewalk...Not blaming the workers, blaming overworked and lack of them....Yet, if I have my vehicle parked on the side of the road trying to clear out, I could get a ticket??? What's wrong with this picture....

  • Jack
    April 02, 2014 - 13:34

    Meanwhile Eastern Health employees were expected to go to work on Tuesday morning at 8:30 only to be told to go home. Those not reporting for work were forced to take an annual day.

  • Mike
    April 02, 2014 - 12:21

    I guess they don't pay enough taxes in Southlands!

  • jen
    April 02, 2014 - 12:06

    "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" 4:30 is NOT an early close, they always close at 4:30!

    April 02, 2014 - 11:05

    If we have say, 2 or more major spring storms predicted in a long range forecast , will Doc @ company rehire some of the plow operators so what happened in Southlands today, won't happen again? Ans. - Absolutely not!! He's taking a page out from former Mayor John Murphy. I remember Mayor Murphy telling the media, during an April storm many years ago - "The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away" . Absolutely no accountability and to think - they work for US!!

  • Fed UP
    April 02, 2014 - 10:20

    SOUTHLANDS especially Kenai and Sumac are not ploughed and are impassable by car. Buses were stuck all over the place there this morning and it is appalling that they ploughed Teakwood and ignored the side streets. The mayor and council have their heads buried in the snow and should be ashamed of the job they have done this winter.

  • joe
    April 02, 2014 - 10:05

    Look at all that new money, buried in snow. New subdivisions made a few people rich but the cash didn't trickle down into proper snowclearing. Living the Newfoundland dream?

  • wavy
    April 02, 2014 - 08:46

    Given the number of cars, buses, even ambulances in ditches all over town this morning, due to ongoing heavy drifting and white-out conditions all over the northeast Avalon, on major arterial routes, unplowed offramps, etc. in a city already choked with congestive infrastructure nightmares, etc., does anyone else think the city could've used another morning, if not day, of school closures to get the streets, roads and highways, never mind the sidewalks for the kids who walk, back in better order BEFORE sending buses out over the roads? The road conditions on this morning's commute (more to the point, the amount of snow still on the roads due to either ongoing snow build-up ie. the effects of the storm are ongoing, or a lack of snow plowing/ snow removal ie. city struggling to deal with after-effects of the storm), were the worst I've seen this year and that's saying something in what has been one of the worst winters I can recall.

  • carogers
    April 02, 2014 - 07:59

    "staff have frequently worked double shifts for upwards of 16 hours over the last 10 days." and why is that...because the Mayor saw it fit to lay off most of the staff. So when your remaining staff suffer burn out then what? These are people not machines. You will not get points with me for poor management. 160 hours. I am surprized no one has fallen asleep at the wheel. Perhaps that is because they are taking something to keep alert??? Should be ashamed of yourselves getting in the paper and admitting your staff is pushed this far because of management decisions to cut staff. Where is the consideration for safety?

  • James
    April 02, 2014 - 07:46

    Have to agree Rob. I remember in the early 1950's we had a massive storm causing 30 foot drifts along the Goulds highway. They were that high in places the power lines were 2-3 feet under the drift. Where old bay bulls road meets the Gould Highway was the parking area. There was no ability to drive and we walked from Bidgoods to there every day for 5 days to get to work in town.

    • wavy
      April 02, 2014 - 08:55

      Uphill both ways? Kidding, kidding! Winter of 2000/2001 might have been one for the record books in terms of total snowfall (my daughter was born on the very day the record fell- she's sick of hearing about it, of course) but this year takes the cake for whatever criteria you want to use for most "miserable" winter. It's been a hell of a slog.

  • Rob
    April 02, 2014 - 07:11

    Massive? 35 cm is not massive. last year's 65cm storm was certainly. That 83cm storm from the 90s, definitely massive. 35? Come now. #hyperbole