A story of ice and water

Never a dull moment as town, residents deal with big snowfall, followed by big melting, followed by ice

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

As predicted – in local coffee shops and elsewhere – last week’s burst of warm weather did more harm than good. For pedestrians it was a disaster.
The footing had just improved, thanks to fresh snow, when the melting turned walkways back into something more like skating rinks.

“Wear your ice studs, please,” says Town of Slave Lake CAO Brian Vance.

As usual, efforts to make sidewalks and paved trails around Slave Lake walkable are a patchwork affair. The town does get to its areas of responsibility; not as quickly as some would like, but eventually all will be plowed and – if slippery – treated with some kind of grit. Probably a majority of commercial properties also take care of their sidewalks, but there are significant gaps. However, as Vance noted in an email exchange with The Leader last week, there have been some improvements lately.
Apparently all it takes in some cases is a reminder; some business managers simply weren’t aware of their sidewalk maintenance responsibilities.

As far as the paved walking trails go, the service level has changed. There used to be a dedicated trail maintenance person on staff, Vance said. But council decided to save some money and put that job into the general operations area. The result is its priority is lower and it gets done when other, more pressing things have been taken care of.

“Other staff do it as well as other jobs, so it takes longer,” he says.

On the plus side of the equation is that the volunteer who looks after the outdoor ice surfaces in town has been doing some trail plowing with the machine he uses to clear and flood the rinks.

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