Saskatoon begins to dig out from massive winter storm on election day

Saskatoon residents are being urged to stay off the streets this morning as city crews dig out from Sunday’s winter blizzard.

The storm dumped 20 to 30 centimetres of snow on the city on Sunday on the eve of election day to go along with the nearly 15 centimetres the city received on Saturday.

Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said they have received 108 calls for stranded motorists.

The city is concentrating on clearing major roadways, said Goran Saric, director of roadways, fleet and support for the city of Saskatoon.

Saric says it was challenging for crews to plow and grade because of the blowing snow and all of the stranded vehicles.

No vehicles are getting out of this cul-de-sac in Stonebridge anytime soon. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC)

Saskatoon firefighters were busy helping stranded motorists with various emergency equipment including two track vehicles. (Saskatoon Fire Department)

He said they are hoping to have the priority one streets such as Idylwyld Drive, 22nd Street, Eighth Street and Attridge Drive cleared by noon.

Saric said in the next six hours they should make good progress on priority one streets.

There is currently no bus service, but the city is hoping to have buses on major streets running sometime this morning.

In-person classes are cancelled for high school students in the city. The school news release said the decision was made in discussion with the City of Saskatoon and emergency services. 

Garbage and recycling collection has also been cancelled for today.  There have been no reports of disruptions with power and water.

Saskatoon police deputy chief Randy Huisman says police fielded 244 calls, (108 of those were for the stranded motorists) and are still looking for one missing person.

City manager Jeff Jorgenson said Sunday’s blizzard is comparable to the 2007 blizzard that paralyzed the city.

The snow is piled high in front of Jodi Dadey house in Saskatoon. (Facebook)

Jorgenson said they will need time and space to clean up and cautioned anyone venturing out to use a large truck.

“The city is littered with small cars and small SUVs,” he said. “You’ll get stuck (with a small vehicle).”

Jorgenson says it will be days before residential streets will be plowed.

Pamela Goulden-McLeod, director of emergency management for the city, said if you must go out make sure you have someone with you and drive a large vehicle with four-wheel drive.

“We’re really asking you not to travel this morning if you do not have to, particularly if you have a small car. It is not safe to be out there. And at this point, you will create a hazard and we will have to divert resources to support you,” she said.

Goulden-McLeod said they are also  working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to help essential staff get to work. 

The Holliston School polling station Monday morning. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Election day

The polls for today’s civic election are supposed to open at 8 a.m. CST, though Jorgenson said poll workers will have troubled getting to their stations so there might be delays.

Jorgensen said the snow dump won’t change election plans.

“There’s no snow days for elections, the election must continue. So everybody that hasn’t voted, we’re encouraging everyone to make a plan to vote.”

Saric said streets with polling stations have been added to the city’s priority streets for snow clearing.

Voters are encouraged to adjust for driving conditions and leave extra time to get to and from polling locations. Chief Morgan Hackl suggests waiting to vote until this afternoon when roads are clear.