© Paul Hutchings
Colemans employee Jessie Hodder clears the snow away from the entrance of the Deer Lake supermarket on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Businesses have had to work overtime to keep their premises clear in the wake of early snowstorms so far this year.
DEER LAKE — Life in western Newfoundland means snow, and this year is proving to be no exception.
But with the first snowfall of the year nearly two weeks ago, some local businesses say they were nearly caught behind the ball for clearing.
Gas stations, restaurants with drive-thru locations and various other stores and businesses have all had extra snow cover in their parking lots and they have some scrambling to do to keep their customers happy.
“It hit fast and it’s been difficult at times to keep up,” said Karen Bradley, assistant manager of the Irving Big Stop. “But we have a good crew contracted to take care of it and they’ve been doing a good job so far.”
Woodward Auto Group general manager Perry Compton said winter storms mean a revenue loss for the car sales centre on the Trans-Canada Highway in Deer Lake. After a storm, employees have to block off the parking lot and move their cars around to clear the lot, as per Occupational Health and Safety rules of the province. They are unable to serve customers, which can mean an entire day without sales.
Employees had to move approximately 80 vehicles, said Compton. That means starting them all up, brushing the snow off and moving them around in between snow clearing machinery. All this is done without a contractor, as the business’ 12 employees, including Perry, take on the clearing work.
“We were caught a little unprepared this year, like a lot of people, but we’re in snow clearing mode now,” he said. “When that storm hit on Sunday we lost all of Monday. It took the whole day to clean it all up the way it’s supposed to be.”
Curt Ball of Colemans Furniture in Deer Lake said his business shares a lot with Colemans grocery store and praised those contracted to dig out the parking lot.
“We’ve had it good — they’re doing a great job,” he said. “What slows us down is when we get deliveries in. We have to make sure the ramp is clear more often, it can be slippery, but we’re getting through it.”
Deer Lake superintendent Dave Thomas recently called it frustrating that the storms are piling so much snow on the streets that it was difficult to keep them clear, but they got through. The RCMP said Tuesday saw two minor vehicle accidents with no one seriously injured, but otherwise police are relatively pleased with how few accidents there have been since the snow started.