November 29, 2022

8 mins read

How is Commercial Snow Removal in Calgary Different from Kelowna?

It’s been snowing for hours in four different cities in western Canada, but a snowfall in Edmonton is not the same as a snowfall in Victoria. To keep the parking lots safe and clear in each region—and avoid complaints—requires entirely different approaches and equipment. How is snowfall and commercial snow removal in Kelowna different from commercial snow removal Calgary?

In this article, we’re going to share our expertise in winter conditions across western Canada and the most effective ways to remove snow, region by region.

At GRM, our snow removal teams are led by official SIMA Certified Snow Professionals with training and expertise on the science of snow and ice operations, and snow and ice operations management. We caught up with GRM Inc.’s senior operations manager, Chris Hinton, who is a Certified Snow Professional, for his best winter maintenance tips.

Commercial Snow Removal Calgary, Edmonton and the Okanagan and the Coast

Coastal BC

Includes cities like Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and throughout Vancouver Island, BC

The snow:

The coast is much better known for its rain, but every year, the region sees at least a handful of snow events. Last year, according to Environment Canada, Vancouver saw six snowfalls in December alone, including a dump of 19 centimetres just before New Year’s Eve. While snowfalls tend to be less frequent, the snow tends to be wet and heavy, and with so many elevation differences snowfall amounts can really vary, even within the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. With so much coastal precipitation, commercial parking lot maintenance in Vancouver and Victoria will focus much more on salting to combat ice.

“Even without precipitation, because of the high humidity, there’s still dew that forms and creates ice, so it’s important to be salting to combat that,” says Hinton.

The treatment:

Icing and commercial snow removal in Victoria and Vancouver focuses on:

  • Salting. Rock salt, effective in mild temperatures, is predominantly used after a snowfall to ensure parking lots aren’t icy. Throughout winter, some businesses and municipalities will need about 30 salting events to help ensure driving safety in parking lots and on sidewalks.
  • Truck plows and sometimes skid steers help remove snow from parking lots at commercial plazas, airports, institutions, etc.

Since snow events are less frequent yet create safety concerns, especially for Lower Mainland drivers not used to snow, commercial property maintenance teams still need to be prepared. Outsourcing snow removal in Vancouver can mean you have the resources those few times of year when they’re really needed without having to invest in the equipment or upkeep.

“You still need to be prepared and that’s a region where having a vendor with the proper equipment is crucial to provide safe conditions.”

Summary: What are the best practices for commercial snow removal in Vancouver and Victoria?

Salting with rock salt helps prevent icy everyday conditions in parking lots and on sidewalks, and for those infrequent dumps of heavy, wet snow, truck plows ensure fast and effective snow removal.

Thompson Okanagan, BC

Includes cities such as Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon

The snow:

In BC’s Interior, with milder temperatures and more precipitation, the snow tends to fall hard, fast and heavy. It doesn’t take long for traffic to make snow sticky and, eventually, icy. Most Okanagan cities will see about eight to 20 snowfall events through the course of the winter, and properties at higher elevations can sometimes see even more snow.

“Cities like Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton occasionally experience ‘lake effect snow’ where sometimes there’s not a snowstorm but the high humidity in the air near a large body of water
condenses and falls as snow,” says Hinton. “These events are unexpected and the snow isn’t as heavy, but can still create unsafe conditions.”

The treatment:

  • Salting. Where sand is common for improving traction in some regions in western Canada, the Okanagan benefits most from anti-icing treatment so that vehicle traffic won’t compact snow and create ice adhesion, and icy conditions.

With lower temperatures than on the coast, roadways and sidewalks are treated about 30 times a winter with ice-melters for walkways. This is a salt treated with such as magnesium or
calcium chloride. Liquid de-icing products are also applied before and after a snow event to prevent snow and ice from bonding to roadways and parking areas.

  • Snow removal in Vernon, for example, calls for truck plows or skid steers for roads in parking lots and ATV’s or quads for fast and effective sidewalk snow removal. Some Okanagan cities will also require occasional commercial snow hauling with a haul truck.

“We’ve raised the bar for snow removal in Kelowna. Businesses expect the pavement to be bare and black all year round,” says Hinton, of GRM Inc.’s home base in central Okanagan. In Kelowna, GRM provides property maintenance for institutions such as Kelowna International Airport and Okanagan College Kelowna Campus.

Check out this video to hear what YLW Airport Director Sam Samaddar has to say about GRM’s expertise and “meticulous” approach.

Summary: What are the best practices for commercial snow removal in Kamloops, Penticton, Vernon and Kelowna?

Salting sidewalks and parking lots with an ice-melter post-snowfall helps ensure traffic doesn’t make snow sticky and icy, especially for businesses and facilities near the lake. Snow removal in the Okanagan is done most efficiently in parking lots with truck plows or skid steers, and on sidewalks with ATV’s or quads.

Prairies and Northern BC

Includes cities such as Prince George, BC; Edmonton and Fort McMurray, AB; Regina, Sask. and Winnipeg, Man.

The snow:

With much lower temperatures in northern BC and Alberta, and cities like Regina and Winnipeg, snow tends to be much lighter than snow in Interior and Coastal BC. The downside is, Prairie cities see a lot more of it.

“These are cities that get a lot of snow,” says Hinton. “It’s not unusual for us to be out there doing snow removal in Regina on a daily basis.”

Early in November 2022, Edmonton got its first big dump of snow with 9 centimetres in one night—beating six of the 10 previous years for amount fallen in the city’s first significant snowfall event, according to this Daily Hive article and Environment Canada.

The treatment:

When you’re dealing with another snowfall most days, what tools help you get the job done quickly to clear your parking lot and keep complaints at bay?

  • Sanding. Instead of salting to prevent icy conditions, in this region, a sand mix is put down because here, says, Hinton, “It’s all about traction.” His recommended blend is a “pickle mix” of sand with varying levels of coarseness.
  • Snow removal in Edmonton and similar Prairie cities calls for the most heavy duty snow removal equipment out there: truck plows for snow removal, and dump truck loaders for storing and hauling away snow because with sub-zero temperatures, it’s not going anywhere.

Summary: What are the best practices for commercial snow removal in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Prince George?

With lighter snow, sub-zero temperatures and frequent snowfalls, it’s all about moving snow quickly and creating traction. For best results in commercial parking lots and sidewalks, sand roadways and sidewalks with a sand mix, and use heavy duty equipment such as truck plows and truck loaders for snow removal and hauling.

Southern Alberta

Includes cities like Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat

The snow:

In Southern Alberta, you never quite know you’re going to get one hour to the next. With warm chinook winds and wild temperature swings from 15C to -15C in mere hours, property maintenance teams need to be prepared for anything.

Snow tends to be on the lighter side and falls frequently, but on milder days it can be heavy—and it can quickly turn to slush and ice, creating dangerous driving conditions.

“In Calgary, the challenge is extreme temperature changes. Recently we saw temperatures in the high teens one day, and overnight that shifted from rain to snow and -20C. The city just froze up, so you need to have all the tools at your disposal.”

The treatment:

  • Salting and sanding are performed depending on the temperature. GRM recommends salting with calcium chloride on milder days and sanding for traction on colder days.
  • Snow removal in Calgary means heavy equipment loaders are a must for clearing and hauling away heavy and frequent snowfalls.

Summary: What are the best practices for commercial snow removal in Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat?

With temperature swings and frequent snowfall, you can keep parking lots and sidewalks safe by sanding on colder days and salting on milder days. Use skid steers and truck plows for snow removal on parking lots, and haulers to clear away snow piles periodically.

The snow removal experts with every tool

How does GRM help ensure airports, colleges, commercial plazas and more are safe for staff and guests every day—all winter long?

We offer a complete range of winter services:

  • Snow removal
  • Snow haul away
  • Hand shovelling
  • Anti-icing
  • Sanding
  • Pre and post-season property inspections

Thinking about hiring a property maintenance team like GRM for your snow and ice management needs? Reach out to learn more about how we bring expertise and the best equipment to offer the highest standards of four-season maintenance for municipalities, retail outlets, commercial plazas, stratas, government agencies and more. We’re happy when you’re happy.

Get the number for the GRM Inc. office near you or call now for a free quote and consultation:

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