Snowfall causes chaos in Cranbrook

Winter storm wallops East Kootenay as snowfall shuts down schools, local businesses.

Doug Crawley tackles heavy snowfall in his driveway with a quad after a winter storm passed through Cranbrook over the weekend.

Doug Crawley tackles heavy snowfall in his driveway with a quad after a winter storm passed through Cranbrook over the weekend.

The last three days have seen a combined 31 centimetres of snowfall with more on the way, according to Environment Canada.

The City of Cranbrook is scrambling all available resources for snow removal with priority routes focusing on emergency operations such as the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, ambulance service and fire department.

The city says plows have been operating 24 hours a day since Friday and the city is also putting out the call for everyone to pitch in, if possible.

“For those living in cul-de-sacs, Public Works advises it could be the better part of a week before city plows are able to reach them,” according to a city press release. “As a result, the City of Cranbrook is putting out the call to any citizens who have snow blowers, plows on trucks or quads or if you simply have a shovel and a strong back to please do what you can to assist us with clearing snow from cul-de-sacs, alleys and sidewalks.”

Garbage collection, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, is cancelled along with BC transit services and a regularly scheduled city council meeting.

SD5 schools closed after initially remaining open, while bus services to outlying areas was cancelled. The College of the Rockies campuses in Cranbrook and Kimberley also closed.

In Kimberley, garbage collection was also cancelled Monday. Scott Sommerville, CAO of the City of Kimberley said the City may do both Monday and Tuesday garbage collections on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen.

The City of Kimberley also advised residents to keep water running — there had been reports of a lot of pipes freezing, and the City was unable to go out to do thaws in this weather — utility trucks were getting stuck.

Sommerville also requested residents shovelling snow not to throw snow out onto the road. “We had a near-miss accident caused by that (Monday) morning,” he said.

He added that people out on the streets with quads or snowblowers, although trying to be helpful, could inadvertently be causing a hazard.

Regionally, Mainroads East Kootenay Contracting has been out working the highways on a priority basis and has brought in extra resources.

The storm has forced the closure of Highway 3 between Elko and Fernie due to high avalanche hazards, while the Crowsnest Pass remains closed.

Mainroad reminds anyone driving on the highways to give crews and equipment plenty of room to safely do their work. Do not attempt to pass a tow plow or any winter operation equipment.

Cranbrook RCMP is asking drivers to stay off the highways if possible due to the heavy snowfall and deteriorating road and visibility conditions.

“Snow is still expected in the coming days and the Cranbrook RCMP is asking anyone who does not need to be travelling on the roadways to stay home,” said Cst. Katie Forgeron.