City of Ottawa plow operator Q&A

OTTAWA – Mike Lepage has been removing snow off the roads during the winter season for more than 40 years and has been with the City of Ottawa for more than 11 years. Lepage sat down with City of Ottawa staff to share some of his experiences, challenges and favourite parts of being a snow operator.

What’s a typical day on the job?

I arrive at the garage and perform an equipment check on our vehicles to ensure everything is functioning as it should be before we hit the road.

After the equipment check, I load my vehicle with salt and start my beat, which is our term for the route we must plow for that day.

Our beat can either be a residential or a major road beat.

In a major snow storm, we plow 30 kilometers of roads five to six times and return to yard when we must refill our vehicles with salt and calcium.

At the end of day, I perform another equipment check to make sure the vehicle has no issues for the next shift. If the vehicle needs any repairs, I’ll send it to our garage on site.

What are you most looking forward to about the winter season?

I really enjoy getting behind the wheel of our snow removal vehicles and getting important work done – filling emergency potholes, cleaning up following car accidents, and installing temporary barricades when guard rails are damaged.

During my free time, I really enjoy driving my snowmobile and snowshoeing.

What are you least looking forward to about the winter season?

Freezing rain, for sure. I find that it takes the fun out of the winter season for everybody. It becomes much more difficult to do fun outdoor activities.

What’s the best part about the job?

I really like knowing that my job helps to keep everyone safer on the roads.

What can residents do to help snow operators in their neighborhood?

During a snowstorm it really helps us when residents avoid parking on the street. There are times when we can’t plow a specific street, simply because there is a car parked on the street and our vehicles can’t get through.

On garbage day, it really helps when residents keep their garbage at the end of the laneway and not on the street itself, so we can pass through.

And lastly, I really appreciate it when vehicles are patient around our snow vehicles and avoid trying to pass us. Our goal is to ensure that everyone gets home safely.