Here’s what it’s like to drive a Squamish plow when it snows


With a winter storm warning in effect for this weekend, TopHat Industries has ideas and advice for when the white stuff falls.

Adam Smolcic of Squamish and his private snow removal team at TopHat Industries Inc. literally plowed their way through December.

“It’s been the busiest year we’ve had probably in the last four or five years. It’s been absolutely crazy. And I can’t tell you how tired my guys and I are, but it has. wonderful summer, ”Smolcic told The Chef Squamish on the morning of December 31st.

The company has everything from plows and ATVs to mini excavators and bobcats to remove snow from residential properties, strata and commercial properties around town. The company also shovels roofs and deposits salt, which is a hot commodity with our freezing temperatures.

“It was quite cold. So there was a lot more ice than in the past,” he said.

Until December, Squamish experienced several days of arctic flow that brought temperatures, along with the wind chill, to -22 ° C.

Cold temperatures mean it’s harder for teams to move accumulated snow.

“It’s quite difficult for people who procrastinated or who maybe weren’t in town when [the snowfall] happened, ”Smolcic said.

“The snowplows left a frozen berm in front of their house and these things cannot be removed by a snowplow. You have to bring machinery for that. I mean, you just destroy your equipment, otherwise. a lot harder for these people. They weren’t expecting it and now they have that extra expense. “

Smolcic said if possible, snow should be moved while it is soft before it hardens and becomes a problem.

Currently, an Environment Canada winter storm watch is in effect for Howe Sound, which means even busier days into the New Year for snow clearing crews. Saturday and Sunday snowfall amounts of 25 to 45 cm are expected.

Snow is also forecast for Squamish until next week.

Dealing with snow is not a job for people who like mild conditions or normal hours.

Most people want snow removal done before they leave for work, so Smolcic and his team got out around 3 a.m., plowing until 7 a.m., and then they start their freelance calls (no contract).

When salted, crews usually left around 9 p.m. until around 1 a.m.

“We have contracts where we have to clear the snow to two centimeters, so we’ll be out all night,” he said.

On Friday, they were preparing for the coming frozen deluge.

“What we’re trying to do right now is plan where we’re going to put [this next dump of snow]. At many of our resorts, such as the Riverstones complex on Government Road, we are actively removing snow from this site. There’s nowhere else to put it. We pushed all the snow we could push in these places. And now it’s time to get rid of it. So we just prepare and make sure our sites are able to handle this. And then, you know, we pray for some sleep. “

The company has a private owner who collects the collected snow. Smolcic noted that it cannot be put anywhere as it is considered contaminated due to the salt it contains.

Jurisdiction considerations

Smolcic said sometimes people try to signal teams to get them to use municipal or provincial roads.

As much as they want to help everyone else, they are not allowed to prey on those due to insurance restrictions.

“It’s technically a violation if we were to do this… because we don’t have insurance for the roads in the city, so we have to be careful about that,” he said.

The vagaries of the profession

Smolcic said hiding under snow can be anything from a simple hand tool to a metal container, maintenance hole cover, drain, uneven pavement or a pesky retarder.

“We serve a lot of gas stations. Those gasoline filler caps for the big trucks that actually come in and fill the stations – that’s always a danger to us too. So we tend to shovel those spots by hand,” did he declare.

However, there are some things that the plow uncovers do not pose such a serious risk.

This week, an owner asked him to clear his lawn for a family reunion. The plow picked up a barbecue and a tricycle, Smolcic said with a laugh.

Snow tips

Smolcic said children often play in snow piles at family complexes. Although not recommended, drivers will honk their horns to warn parents to come and pick up their children, he said.

His advice to operators is to give the plows the space they need.

“If you see a plow, stay back. It doesn’t make sense to follow us behind,” he said. “We look back a lot, but you know sometimes we just don’t see you. So keep a good distance; beep us if you think we can’t see you. But give us some space, that’s for sure. “

The worst thing for the crews is the snow that piles up where it shouldn’t be.

“A lot of people are pushing it into the pavement, which is actually illegal,” he said. “If you are going to be shoveling your driveway, or if you are going to plow somebody’s property, you have to put the snow in an appropriate place.”

Smolcic also said cleaning snow drains is a good idea, as is creating a path for snow before it melts.

“People [think] it’s just going to melt, and it’s going to work, but if you cut a channel to work before it starts to work, you can sort of decide where it’s going to go.

Also, be sure to clear snow near the house or building, he said.

“The most important thing is if you can shovel the snow away from your foundation, you are going to do yourself a favor.”

To learn more about snow removal and other TopHat Industries Inc. services, visit their website.

“About a Local” is a regular column that features interesting local Squamish. Do you have an idea for someone we should pitch? Send an email to [email protected]