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In some areas of rural P.E.I., finding snow removal services is tough

Through the many heavy snowfalls between January and March 2022, whereas most Islanders had plows visiting recurrently, one man residing in rural P.E.I. relied solely on a pair of snowshoes, a sled, and a shovel. 

However this winter, stated Stuart Hickox, will likely be totally different. 

“After I got here again right here final yr … folks have been like, ‘Oh, don’t fret, we do not get a lot snow anymore. You need not discover somebody to clear your driveway,'” stated Hickox, who moved again to P.E.I. in 2021 after residing away for many years. 

“I’ve an 800-foot driveway uphill by means of the bushes. That was a mistake,” he stated. 

Land covered in snow with tracks seen heading through the trees.
Underneath all that snow is Stuart Hickox’s driveway, the place he cleared a path final winter to snowshoe from the highway to his home. (Submitted by Stuart Hickox)

“I snowshoed in from the highway from that first snowstorm on Jan. 6 proper till mid-April, dragging all of my provides uphill on a sleigh, so I do not wish to try this once more.”

Hickox, who lives in a cabin in Hartsville, close to the Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park, had hassle discovering anybody to clear his driveway this yr. He finally managed to rent a plow operator after he posted in a Fb group referred to as P.E.I. Snow Elimination Finder. 

‘You could not cost sufficient’

It may be a battle for folks in some rural areas of P.E.I. to seek out snow elimination providers, stated Earl Watts, a farmer and horse coach in Springvale, alongside Route 2 west of Milton. 

Watts used to do snow clearing within the winter however stopped two years in the past as a result of rising prices. 

“You could not cost sufficient for the worth of gasoline and every thing,” stated Watts. 

Watts stated he is been getting loads of calls this yr to clear driveways in his space, and will get the sense there are fewer folks providing the service now.   

“Not loads of younger folks coming behind us … there’s a few folks, however not too many.” 

A man crouches next to a corgi dog in the snow with snowy woods behind them.
Hickox’s plan for this yr consists of shopping for a used walk-behind snowblower and hiring his snowplow operator as wanted. (Berni Wooden)

Watts stated he used to clear driveways for residential properties in addition to some faculties. 

“However then the insurance coverage for the colleges simply acquired so excessive that I, you understand, simply did not make a lot sense of doing it anymore.”

Lack of small farms

Nadine MacLean has seen the identical sample Watts has — fewer farmers turning their tractors into snowplows within the wintertime. 

MacLean’s associate, Jason Lutz, runs a snow elimination firm within the Millcove space, close to Tracadie. 

There’s been a rise in demand for snow elimination providers over the previous few years, stated MacLean. 

“Lots of people are shifting right here, shopping for farm homes however not the precise farm, due to this fact much less tractors and folks obtainable to run them to do snow elimination,” wrote MacLean in an e-mail. 

There are fewer small farms on P.E.I. than there was once, stated MacLean, so farm tools can be getting greater as farms develop. 

“Their tools just isn’t fitted to residential snow elimination … [it] additionally does not match within the driveways,” she stated.

Another excuse youthful folks could not wish to begin within the business is the excessive prices, stated MacLean, and never simply gasoline. 

“The price of a brand new tractor and elements to restore them — if you will get them in any respect — has risen exponentially, in addition to high quality labour,” she stated. 

MacLean began the Fb group P.E.I. Snow Elimination Finder 4 years in the past. 

“We noticed a relentless want for suppliers on-line or in-person and never many individuals knew the place to look,” she stated. 

If you happen to’re hiring somebody new for snow elimination, ask questions and discover out what their service is like from present prospects, says MacLean. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

She advises that individuals seeking to rent somebody new do their analysis. 

“Discover out from neighbours and associates who they’ve for snow elimination,” she stated.

“Phrase of mouth, particularly on this Island, is likely one of the greatest promoting instruments on the market to safe somebody reliable.

Plow operators have been onerous to return by in his rural space of central P.E.I., stated Hickox. 

“The people who find themselves right here have lived right here for a very long time and both have horses or cattle. So that they have their very own tools to do their driveways,” he stated. 

Demographics additionally play an element, with some farmers getting older, stated Hickox. 

Then there’s the format of rural properties. 

“There are not any subdivisions, there is no density of housing to make it type of economically possible for somebody to return with the tractor,” he stated. 

‘Simply need to get by means of the following winter’

Even if Hickox did discover somebody to clear his lane this winter, he is not hanging up his snowshoes simply but. 

Given the size of his driveway, getting it totally cleared after a giant storm may price him $200. So he’ll be discovering different methods to go away the home too. 

Hickox plans to purchase a used walk-behind snowblower, and depend on a neighbour to blow out the tip of his driveway so he can get out along with his automobile. 

“That is my patchwork quilt of an answer for this yr … I’ve to be very cautious and nonetheless use that outdated shovel,” he stated. 

“I simply need to get by means of the following winter and hope that we do not get as a lot snow as we would, but in addition be prepared for that simply in case.” 

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