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Keeping the streets clear

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 11/06) - Louis Michel was a busy man in November.

He is a grader driver with the Town of Hay River, and the community was hit with a record 114.4 cm of snow during the month. A normal amount of snowfall for November is 26.4 cm.

Michel said he never saw anything like the several major snowfalls during November in Hay River.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Louis Michel has driven a snowplow in Hay River since 1989. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"There was one right after the other," he said.

Michel, who is originally from northern Saskatchewan, has been an equipment operator with the Town of Hay River since 1989.

Before that, he was an equipment operator at Pine Point Mine for 20 years.

Michel said he gets a lot of satisfaction out of operating the snowplow. "Just the feeling of getting the streets nice and clean," he said.

It takes four days to clear the whole town, he explained, noting he is usually the only one running the grader, which is often followed by a loader picking up piles of snow from streets and driveways.

The work begins in the downtown core at 4 a.m. when there is very little traffic and few parked cars. At 8 a.m., Michel moves on to other areas of town until his work day ends at 5 p.m.

Michel said he cleared the downtown core four times in November.

Michel feels that Hay River residents appreciate the town's efforts to keep the streets clear.

"I get a lot of thumbs up," he said.

However, he is sometimes asked by people when their particular streets are going to be cleared, noting the questions are often asked jokingly. "They know you can only do so much," he said.

Michel said the main frustration he feels in driving a snowplow is from vehicles parked on the streets.

If a vehicle is blocking him from clearing some snow, he gets it next time around, he said. "And if you don't get it next time, it will melt in the spring."

However, most people co-operate by getting their cars and trucks off the street.

Michel doesn't mind getting out of bed at 3 a.m. when snow needs to be plowed. "You kind of get used to it," he said.