Landscape Services is geared up for Winter


Preparing for winter weather

Two operators discussing their route on concrete beach

A dump of snow starting Saturday night put the snowplow wheels in motion on campus this weekend.  

As they do every year; the Landscape Services team has been gearing up for the change in weather. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning last week, FM operators fired up their fleet of loaders, pickups, salters, and sidewalk plows. Much of the winter-specific equipment had been sitting idle since the end of last season. 

Manager of Landscape Services, Mike Lunau, refers to this exercise as a ‘mock snow event’ which has the team perform a complete run-through of their routes. It gives new operators a chance to get familiar with campus and allows the team to identify issues with the equipment, spaces that have changed or are less accessible, and any new surfaces. 

The entire team debriefs following the mock snow eventIt is normally ‘run of the mill’, however, changes to walkways and hard surfaces have prompted a revised approach, according to Lunau. 

“Every year is a little different,” said Lunau. “This year, the additional pavers and concrete work from the UC Hill renovation mean we are testing out less rigid plow blades.” 

Blades are normally stainless steel, which are tough on packed ice and snow and can also be tough on undulating surfaces. This year, one of the sidewalk plows is equipped with a new Teflon blade. It is expected to be more forgiving on uneven surfaces and interlocking stones.

The snow that fell over the weekend was a taste of what's to come. Hard surfaces were quickly tidied up and salted by FM operators and above zero temperatures melted much of it away.

Focus on major thoroughfares and pedestrian safety 

Western has dozens of kilometres of roadway and pathway, more than 7,000 parking spaces, and hundreds of building entrances. Tens of thousands of staff, faculty, students and community members travel through campus daily. 

Keeping all travelable surfaces safe and clear is critical and particular focus is put on pedestrian pathways. The team follows the snow operation strategy, which identifies areas of primary focus in the event that snow falls faster than it can be cleared. 

Select areas on campus will be closed again this year to facilitate safe passage and provide overflow space for snow removed from adjacent surfaces. Low volume and redundant stairways and walkways, for example, are roped off. 

Reporting inaccessible and slippery conditions on campus 


Bryan Wakefield, Director of Facilities Operations, is hopeful that returning staff and faculty will continue to play a part in reporting hazardous conditions. 

“We are also taking the opportunity to remind the campus community to take proper precautions, dress for the weather, and plan their journey across campus.” 

Wakefield notes that the team often prioritizes areas during long snow events and reminds the campus community to only report spots that have been left for a significant amount of time or are slippery. 

“The team is ready to go, but ongoing snowstorms will have an impact on our strategy,” says Wakefield. “Our objective during large-scale events is to stay ahead of accumulation on emergency routes, accessibility infrastructure, daycare facilities, and high-volume travel paths.” 

To report snow and ice management issues call Facilities Management Client Services, 519-661-3304. Client Services phones are actively answered by a live agent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.