December 29, 2022
Snow continues to fall on our valley paradise. Some might not think a snow-covered world is a paradise.
But paradise it is.
Too bad I have to move the snow off the driveway and sidewalks. At least I don’t have a job to go clear it from other people’s driveways and sidewalks. For much of my adult working life snow removal was my winter job. I would have to wake up at 3 am and look outside. I would stand there at my window and decide if enough snow had coated the world for me to get out there and start moving it.
We always called it snow removal. But really it was more like snow relocation. I started my career as a professional snow mover when I was only twenty years old. It was a logical thing to do when I was a window cleaner. When it’s too snowy to clean windows I swapped the squeegee for a shovel, instead of making people’s views clearer I made their walkways clearer.
It paid the bills. For the winter anyway.
Over time I expanded my snow-clearing operations. I began to hire subcontractors to plow the parking lots of my job sites. Then I bought machinery, bought a sweeper for the sidewalks, and eventually bought a plow truck of my own. Until one day in a Calgary winter, I had twenty people moving snow in all parts of the city.
I love/hated snow removal. It was an adrenaline rush making sure things were cleared for 8:00 am.
It was also extremely stressful.
But it continued to pay the bills so I kept on pushing. We had several contracts in the downtown core of Calgary and sometimes when things got really heavy and deep we would bring out the big guns and plow snow with a John Deere tractor. One time the tractor couldn’t get enough traction so I was behind the tractor, the operator inside and I pushed that little tractor with all my might so we could clear a path for the on-coming pedestrians that were about to cover the streets of Calgary with their footprints.
Those were the days. Days I don’t care to relive again.
After building the business in Calgary I foolishly decided to start clearing snow in The Okanagan. The problem with that is it was so inconsistent. We could go weeks without snow and no one wanted to pay to have people on standby in case it did snow.
This year has been a bit different. Snow began falling in early November and has not let up since then. So I sat and looked outside at all the white flakes plummeting to the earth. And I smile.
When I saw the snow falling the only snow removal I had to think about is on the ski hills. And Big White has been getting quite a bit lately. Too bad I slept in and missed the chance to go up for first tracks.
At least I was able to sleep in without any stress.
So I give a shout out to those brave souls who continue to get up at 3:00 am and clear our world from snow. These days it’s so much harder. Staffing issues are a real challenge as no one seems to want to work. And who wants to get up at 3:00 am to work anyway? Not me that’s for sure. All the mall businesses moving snow are being killed by exorbitant snow insurance costs. Many have simply shut down because the insurance would cost more than some could make in a season.
When you find yourself frustrated with those clearing the snow, have some patience. Have some sympathy. Until you’ve got up at 3:00 am and worked around the clock where you finish clearing the last walkway at midnight then get two hours of sleep before doing it all again. You can never fully understand how hard it is. It is a thankless job and one I would not want to do again.
So hats off to hall those hard-working snow removal people who are out there while the rest of us are snug in our warm beds. Many sacrifice Christmas and New Year’s and so many other days to ensure we can get to the boxing day sales and our own family gatherings.
Thank you to the men and women who put in the long hours doing what few others would. Thank you snow removal people and keep up the good work.