Public works dept. faces equipment shortage


City workers clear snow from 3rd Street West Wednesday afternoon. Meadow Lake’s public works department would like to see more reliable equipment made available to perform day-to-day operations.

City workers clear snow from 3rd Street West Wednesday afternoon. Meadow Lake’s public works department would like to see more reliable equipment made available to perform day-to-day operations.

By Phil Ambroziak

The saying “things get better with age” isn’t one the City of Meadow Lake’s public works department would agree applies to everything.
During the Feb. 11 meeting of Meadow Lake city council, public works manager Edgar Parreno shared his concerns about ongoing equipment failures, something he primarily credits to the passage of time combined with overuse during the last few months.
“Most of the equipment is old, so we can’t expect it to work so well – some of the equipment is 28 or 29 years old,” Parreno said during a subsequent interview.
For the last month alone, Parreno said one of the city’s graders has been out of commission while, last week, a dump truck broke down.
“Recently, the clutch went on one of our dump trucks,” explained public works foreman Mike Morrant. “It’s not a big issue, but these kind of things all add up. We had to get a new clutch brake, have it repaired – it takes time and certainly slows us down.”
Morrant went on to say general maintenance is common and equipment will break down from time-to-time, noting the copious amount of snowfall experienced this season hasn’t helped matters.
“There’s been a lot of snow this year, which means we’ve been spending a lot of extra hours getting the roads cleared and the equipment is running more than it normally does,” he said. “Right now we have six guys and we’re running a lot more overtime. The guys are at work early and working later at night. That alone costs (the city) extra.”
While Parreno has yet to meet with interim city manager Richard Levesque to discuss the department’s budget for the coming year, he said, in a perfect world, it would be ideal to have a new grader, as well as three or four dump trucks.
“We normally have two dump trucks hauling snow south of B & D Landscaping, but it takes quite a bit of time,” Parreno said.
Morrant said the department could use another grader, a loader, a gravel truck and a vac truck. The city purchased a used vac truck last summer, but it was damaged beyond repair when a fire broke out in the equipment shed at the public works compound in September.
As for the grader issue, during a city council meeting held earlier this month, councillor Conrad Read asked about the possibility of attaching a plow to the front of the city’s sand truck to help plow some of the roads throughout the community. Morrant said the city does own a plow, but its effectiveness would be somewhat limited.
“It would help on a fresh snowfall, but that’s about it,” he said. “It’s just a floating plow, it can’t be used to cut ice or anything like that. If we were to use it, we would have to get out there right away.”
Meanwhile, mayor Gary Vidal said he has talked with Levesque about the equipment shortage.
“It’s a matter of trying to do what we can in the context of our budget limitations,” Vidal said. “He (Levesque) is going to work with the public works department to try and bring some of these issues forward as they finalize their budget. But, we have to prioritize – not everyone is going to get everything they want. Richard is aware of the situation, so we’ll just have to do the best we can.”
Vidal believes the 2013 municipal budget should be completed soon, but said the timing does change year-to-year because of different variables.
“This year is a reassessment year and Richard had some time off in January, but I would like to see it come forward as soon as possible and he’s assured me that it would,” he said.






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