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
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
Includes cities like Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and throughout Vancouver Island, BC
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.
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
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
THOMPSON OKANAGAN, BC
Includes cities such as Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon
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.”
-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.
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.
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.
Includes cities like Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat
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.”
-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 shoveling
- 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
Get the number for the GRM Inc. office near you or call now for a free quote and consultation: