Foreman Darryl Slater worked 12 hours and made many passes on the Malahat during the Feb. 11 snow storm. (Swikar Oli/News Staff)

WATCH: Behind the scenes of Mainroad’s plowing operation

Operations manager Chris Cowley sheds light on the company that has taken care of ministry roads for 15 years

The drivers in the massive yellow snow plows you may have encountered recently on provincial roads don’t just sit around the rest of the year.

Mainroad South Island Contracting LP maintains year-round 3,615 kilometres of roadway on southern Vancouver Island, from Chemainus down to Greater Victoria, including Port Renfrew, Lake Cowichan, Sooke and all roads on the six Southern Gulf Islands.

It’s the company the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure calls to fill potholes, clear vegetation, maintain signs and barriers, and remove everything from graffiti to roadside litter. They ensure surface reflectors stay reflective and pilings supporting bridging are bearing their share of the load. And when the snow begins piling on the Malahat, Mainroad’s trucks are the ones outside plowing, during all hours, and sometimes for up to 12-hour shifts.

RELATED: Mainroad crews cleaning up after winter

Since its founding in 1988, Mainroad Group’s road maintenance jobs extend out of 17 operating companies: nine maintenance, six contracting and two product companies. Operations manager Chris Cowley notes they handle “all Gulf Islands, all municipal highways and any non-municipal roads.”

Mainroad is now on the 15th year of its contract. “Once you have one in, you’re in for a little while,” he says with a slight smile. His plan is to be around for a “little while” longer.

By the time snow blanketed Southern Vancouver Island, Mainroad had already prepared by laying down some groundwork, literally. The team checked weather reports and, when there was snow warnings, took them seriously.

Cowley says Mainroad started repair work on their trucks in October. He provides the province with their winter plan, with “evidence their trucks were ready.” They trained their staff and stocked up on sand and salt. Whenever snow is forecasted, they send out patrols to look for icy spots and “pre-treat” civil roads with a salt brine solution to keep the salt from sticking.

“It’s what we do,” Cowley adds.

The now historic levels of snowfall Greater Victoria accumulated in February are the types of storms that are becoming more common, Cowley says. Preparation, accordingly, has ramped up.

“Climate change — it’s eating us up,” he adds.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

James Bay street corner could house public berry patch

The James Bay Neighborhood Association is hoping to offer berries locals

High of 16 C for Thursday

Plus your weekend forecast

New commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2+ rights draws mixed response

Critics say coin’s date of 1969 ‘equality’ is misleading

PHOTOS: Slugfest at the 2019 Super Channel Championships

Pictures from day two of Boxing BC bouts this week

Time for round two of the Dunnet theatre seat sale

Fundraising committee looks to sell remaining seats Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Most Read