Editorial: Sympathy for Shuswap snow plowers and adapting to exceptional conditions

Residents acknowledge it has been a difficult winter for road maintenance

Complaints have been piling up about our highways maintenance contractor this winter like snow on Shuswap roads.

People have been calling in complaints to the contractor, AIM Roads, as well as the province (where they should be directed), to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (where they shouldn’t be directed as the CSRD isn’t responsible for plowing/maintenance of rural roads) and certainly to the media.

While the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has yet to respond to our request for information on the matter, they have publicly stated ministry staff are closely monitoring AIM’s performance through these “exceptional conditions.”

AIM Roads’ operations manager for the region, Gabriel Nava, was quick to respond to the Observer, sharing the difficulties they’ve had responding to those exceptional conditions and the related public frustration. Some of that frustration prompted AIM Roads to post a notice on social media regarding the company’s policy of zero tolerance for abuse of staff.

Read more: AIM Roads responds to abuse of staff, public frustrations in Okanagan-Shuswap

Read more: Ditched vehicle off highway sends Okanagan crews on multiple calls

Read more: Shuswap outdoor skating rinks open to public

While we’ve heard our share of complaints regarding AIM Roads’ performance, overall, commenters have been sympathetic, with people acknowledging winter conditions have indeed been difficult throughout the Shuswap and Okanagan. Others have expressed their gratitude, recognizing winter road maintenance can be a difficult and thankless job (for AIM and City of Salmon Arm staff).

There have been a lot of comparisons with the previous contractor. One area in which AIM Roads has definitely outdone their predecessor (and the ministry) is public communication. Their attention to keeping people informed and up to date through social media has been impressive.

After this winter, AIM Roads’ first serving the Okanagan-Shuswap, we expect there will be a comprehensive performance review done by the province. We hope all the recent and impending feedback will help the company better prepare for coming winters of exceptional conditions that are undoubtedly in store for the region.

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