Anyone driving the Malahat and Highway 1 following a Vancouver Island snowstorm may have noticed a strange sight: many bent or broken road signs on the side of the road.
The damage was due to the island’s heavy snowfall over the long weekend, according to road maintenance contractor Emcon.
There were at least a dozen signs that were bent or snapped from Highway 1 through the Cowichan Valley, something that Emcon says can happen following a heavy, wet snowfall.
“All the snow is discharged to the right of the snowplow and because we get so much heavy, wet coastal snow here, it causes them to lean,” said Andrew Gaetz of Emcon.
This is the company’s second year plowing the South Island. Gaetz said it’s common for signs to break often in other parts of Canada, but more unusual on the South Island due to the relative lack of snow.
He said signs are designed to bend as a safety feature if they’re struck by a vehicle.
The company adds that the signs will be repaired or replaced this week as part of its contract.
It’s just one of the challenges facing road maintenance companies after the latest island snowstorm.
“Crews have found it challenging to do side roads because lots of people parked on the side of the road, because they can’t get into their driveway, so it’s hard to plow,” said Gaetz.
Some drivers have also attempted to pass vehicles on the right-hand side, which can be extremely dangerous. “So stay back,” Gaetz said.
Despite that, weekend plowing was successful overall, he said.
“We were able to keep the main roads in shape throughout the storm cycle. Everyone’s cooperation in heeding the highway advisory and staying off the roads was a huge help.”
Forty-six centimetres of snow fell on the Malahat over the Family Day long weekend before rain turned roads into a slushy mess. Weather has since returned to relatively normal, reaching seven degrees in sunny conditions on Wednesday.