Slippery road conditions in the Alberni Valley prompted school closures across School District 70 on Friday, superintendent Cam Pinkerton said.
A notice informing residents that schools were closed was posted to the school district’s website just after 6:30 a.m. And callers to the SD 70 board office were greeted with the message “All School District 70 schools are closed due to road conditions.”
The district follows a protocol during adverse weather conditions, Pinkerton said.
The district’s transportation captain as well as secretary treasurer Lindsay Cheetham surveyed road conditions in Beaver Creek, Sproat Lake and Cherry Creek at 5:30 a.m. and found them to be slippery. “Conditions improved later on but we had to make a decision and get notification out then,” Pinkerton said.
According to Environment Canada, the Alberni Valley was blanketed with a light snowfall on Thursday night. Temperatures hovered around zero and there was a freezing drizzle Friday morning.
Safety of children and bus drivers are the primary factors in calling for a school closure because of weather. “The buses may look big with big tires but we’ve had a few slide on the road already,” Pinkerton said. “I’d rather be having a conversation about why we closed a school than for something to happen and be having a conversation about why we didn’t.”
The snowfall kept road maintenance crews busy across the Alberni Valley.
The city kept two brine trucks and three staff going on Thursday in advance of the snowfall. Additional equipment was added on Friday, streets superintendent Randy Fraser said. “The type of snow we had really helped, really small flakes. The roads were slushy this morning but that was it.”
Fraser reminded residents that in the event of a heavy snowfall the city’s priorities are to keep bus routes, and main arterial roads such as Stamp Avenue, Redford Street, Argyle Street, Gertrude Street and Third Avenue plowed.
Road conditions in Alberni’s rural areas were slippery on Friday morning, said Craig Peterson, road foreman for Emcon Services Inc. Emcon is contracted by the Ministry of Transportation to provide maintenance along highways and main roads in the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District.
“Sproat Lake got about three centimetres of snow and there was about four-to-six centimetres of snow out at the end of Beaver Creek,” Peterson said.
Emcon had five trucks and one grader working through the night.
When there is a big snow Emcon’s priorities are highways followed by bus routes then rural roads if they can get to them, he said.