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 mighty 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 kinds 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

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich teen launches free online tutoring website

School Helpers matches volunteer tutors with students

Greater Victoria transit usage sees gradual rise

Ridership still down 66 per cent compared to last year

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

People-less protest in Victoria holds space for victims of police brutality, systematic racism

People are asked to come learn the names of the lives lost to the hands of racism

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read