Foreman Darryl Slater worked 12 hours and made many passes on the Malahat during the Feb. 11 snow storm. (Swikar Oli/News Staff)

WATCH: Behind the scenes of Mainroad’s plowing operation

Operations manager Chris Cowley sheds light on the company that has taken care of ministry roads for 15 years

The drivers in the massive yellow snow plows you may have encountered recently on provincial roads don’t just sit around the rest of the year.

Mainroad South Island Contracting LP maintains year-round 3,615 kilometres of roadway on southern Vancouver Island, from Chemainus down to Greater Victoria, including Port Renfrew, Lake Cowichan, Sooke and all roads on the six Southern Gulf Islands.

It’s the company the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure calls to fill potholes, clear vegetation, maintain signs and barriers, and remove everything from graffiti to roadside litter. They ensure surface reflectors stay reflective and pilings supporting bridging are bearing their share of the load. And when the snow begins piling on the Malahat, Mainroad’s trucks are the ones outside plowing, during all hours, and sometimes for up to 12-hour shifts.

RELATED: Mainroad crews cleaning up after winter

Since its founding in 1988, Mainroad Group’s road maintenance jobs extend out of 17 operating companies: nine maintenance, six contracting and two product companies. Operations manager Chris Cowley notes they handle “all Gulf Islands, all municipal highways and any non-municipal roads.”

Mainroad is now on the 15th year of its contract. “Once you have one in, you’re in for a little while,” he says with a slight smile. His plan is to be around for a “little while” longer.

By the time snow blanketed Southern Vancouver Island, Mainroad had already prepared by laying down some groundwork, literally. The team checked weather reports and, when there was snow warnings, took them seriously.

Cowley says Mainroad started repair work on their trucks in October. He provides the province with their winter plan, with “evidence their trucks were ready.” They trained their staff and stocked up on sand and salt. Whenever snow is forecasted, they send out patrols to look for icy spots and “pre-treat” civil roads with a salt brine solution to keep the salt from sticking.

“It’s what we do,” Cowley adds.

The now historic levels of snowfall Greater Victoria accumulated in February are the types of storms that are becoming more common, Cowley says. Preparation, accordingly, has ramped up.

“Climate change — it’s eating us up,” he adds.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sidney designer showing killer collection at Van Fashion Week

A young Sidney designer is showing her 14 piece collection Obsidian Nights at Vancouver Fashion Week

Greater Victoria MP Randall Garrison calls on Ottawa to extend peacekeeping mission in Mali

The Esquimalt-Sooke-Saanich MP just returned from a trip to Mali and Senegal

WATCH: Oak Bay wins regional skating competition

Winning tradition continues leading up to provincials

Invasive crab spotted near Sooke

Fisheries need more data to know if numbers are increasing

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Most Read