What a difference 24 hours can make. This was Sidney’s Beacon Park just before noon Wednesday following record snow fall (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich Peninsula digs out from underneath record snow fall

Local crews now worried about flooding and water breaks

Glistening sun Thursday morning turned many parts of the Saanich Peninsula into a slushy, slippery pastiche of puddles, piled up snow banks and slick roads after record snowfall and strong winds battered the region.

Perhaps the most symbolic sign of Sidney digging out from underneath the snow that had blanketed the region Tuesday night, Wednesday morning was the line up for doughnuts inside Sidney Bakery early Thursday morning. The store, like so many businesses in the region, closed its doors Wednesday after up to 30 centimetres of snow had fallen. These closures, coupled with the closure of public offices including municipal hall and various transport-related cancellations, swept Sidney’s Beacon Avenue of most pedestrians and gave the rest of downtown a quiet, almost eerie feeling Wednesday. (North Saanich’s municipal hall closed as well, while Central Saanich rescheduled its Saanichton Village Design Plan open house).

This feeling became more ominous several hours later as winds whipped the Saanich Peninsula, causing power outages in Saanichton and Brentwood, as well as brief interruptions in parts of Sidney. Sidney municipal crews, meanwhile, could be seeing plowing the roads well into the late hours Wednesday, having been on the road around the clock since 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to Brian Robinson, Sidney’s manager of public works and parks.

“Currently all streets, parking lots and walkways have been plowed and salted,” he said Thursday morning. “Staff are now concentrating on widening roadways and clearing pedestrian crossings and exposing drains as the thaw begins.”

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North Saanich crews also worked in shifts to keep all six of the District’s plows in operation for 24 hours beginning on Tuesday evening. Residents also did their part.

Thursday morning broke with many heading back to work and schools re-opening after being closed Wednesday. But warm temperatures overnight had withered away snow accumulations, leaving behind thin, but dangerous sheets of ice and piles of slush that gave the morning commute an extra edge of difficulty.

Central Saanich Police Thursday morning responded to an incident near the intersection of Island View Road and Patricia Bay Highway, after a vehicle had gone into a ditch, while Sidney/North Saanich RCMP could be seen handing out tickets to a commuter near Deep Cove Elementary School.

Overall, emergency services were kept busy during the last 48 hours, often at great personal sacrifice.

“We are also very thankful for our volunteer firefighters, who took time away from their families for respond to calls during the storm,” said Meghan Mason, communications manager with the District of North Saanich. “Both of the District’s fire halls were fully operational for 48 hours in order to respond as needed, and the majority of these shifts were filled by volunteers.”

In some cases, some forethought would have prevented the use of precious public resources, as it was the case in Central Saanich, where the driver of an SUV attempted to tow a friend’s vehicle that was stuck in the snow. But the vehicle being towed crashed into another vehicle that was parked in front of the owner’s residence. “Central Saanich Police would like to remind residents to call professional tow companies for support,” it said in release to the Peninsula News Review. Central Saanich also issued a reminder vehicles blocking traffic will be towed to ensure safety of others on the road.

Higher temperatures will likely render this reminder unnecessary for the foreseeable future, but other dangers loom.

“As temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing over the next few days and with wind chill, black ice and slippery conditions can develop very quickly, flooding may also occur,” said Robinson. “Staff will continue to monitor weather and road conditions as usual and react accordingly. Potential for water main breaks are also a possibility with these types of weather conditions and staff are prepared to react as needed.”

In other words, more weather-related troubles might be in store, but that was likely not on the minds of the many Deep Cove Elementary kids, who used the remaining snow Thursday for one last, final, thrilling ride down a bank on the school’s field as a final farewell to the weather that was.


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