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HomeNewsCommunications and resource-sharing “biggest lessons” from Christmas snowstorm

Communications and resource-sharing “biggest lessons” from Christmas snowstorm

There were a few lessons to be learned from the Christmas snowstorm.

That according to Tarmo Uukkivi, Huntsville’s Director of Operations and Protective Services. He says town staff held an internal debrief last week about the significant weather event, to discuss what could be done better in the future.

“Communication was probably the biggest lesson learned. A lot of the internal communications were very smooth and efficient,” says Uukkivi, noting that municipal councils were kept in the loop the whole time. “However, there were opportunities for improvement to make sure that residents and visitors were kept abreast of what the actual plan was, and would evolve into, over the course of the significant weather event.”

Aside from better communication with the public, Uukkivi says much of the discussion centered around cooperation with other municipalities, something that was done on the fly to deal with the unprecedented amount of snow.

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While the City of Toronto supplied two brand-new loader blowers to the District of Muskoka, Uukkivi says our six municipalities will first look to each other before seeking outside help. He says that could mean town staff plowing some district roads, and vice versa.

“It could be sharing equipment, sharing staff, moving equipment around, rescheduling certain routes, prioritizing routes together,” says Uukkivi. “Making sure that if there’s a contiguous route throughout towns, that one town moves smoothly into the next.”

According to Uukkivi, the significant weather event allowed crews to cut back operations for safety reasons. However, he says there were still two to three plows on the roads at all times, and the others remained on call to deploy with first responders.

Uukkivi adds they’re not waiting until next year to implement these changes.

“Even for this winter, we’re looking at working with the town’s insurance provider as well as local area municipalities, to come up with a sharing agreement ahead of time,” says Uukkivi. “And making sure our insurers are ready with certificates of insurance based on typical types of equipment we do have.”

Uukkivi thanks public works crews at the town and district levels, first responders, municipal councils, local private contractors, as well as the communications and finance departments across Muskoka for working behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly.

He also extends a big thank you to the public, “for their understanding, their patience, and taking the time to help each other out. It was really the spirit of community.”

“We hope that this kind of snowfall is not seen again any time in the near future, but that we are prepared going forward,” adds Uukkivi.

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