View From the Legislature

Manitoba Winter Conditions Arrive

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

Despite an unseasonably fall and beginning of winter, all residents of Manitoba knew that it wouldn’t last. This past weekend ushered in more traditional November weather with a snowstorm that left many roads in Manitoba in either difficult or unpassable condition.

And while it is never unexpected, there is always a period of adjustment as even the most experienced Manitoba driver gets reacquainted with driving in winter conditions. In Manitoba, our province is responsible for maintaining about 19,000 kilometres of highways. This is always a challenge but especially during the winter months. It is an effort that requires the cooperation and support of many.

First, it relies upon a robust fleet of equipment. Manitoba has one of the most significant inventories of snow equipment per capita in North America with nearly 340 truck plows, motor graders and de-icing equipment. This equipment and the staff to operate them are alert to weather developments that may cause difficult driving conditions and are on standby to be deployed when conditions begin to worsen for drivers. This is what happened last weekend as the storm developed and then hit Manitoba.

The effort to keep Manitoba highways safe however also extents to many partners. More than $400,000 in snow clearing agreements with 32 communities are signed annually that allow municipal and private partners to help keep roads clear and safe. These partnerships help provide quick local service of snow removal.

And of course, much of keeping our highways safe during the winter depends upon individual Manitobans themselves. This begins with ensuring extra attention is paid to safe driving. That can include making your vehicle safe by considering safety measures such as winter tires. As well, during winter weather events, Manitobans are encouraged to check road conditions in advance of heading out onto the highways. Manitoba 511 provides road conditions online along with road cameras in many locations. This website is updated regularly but of course we know that in Manitoba, things can change quickly.

When out on the roads, in addition to ensuring you are driving to the road and weather conditions, be mindful of the equipment that may be working to clear the highways. All snow-clearing equipment have flashing blue warning lights and motorists should stay well back of all equipment. As well, drivers should not attempt to pass snowplows at anytime they are in operation and should slow down when passing approaching snowplows.

Winter driving often takes an extra amount of caution and patience. As Manitoba goes back into winter, please ensure that you are doing all that you can to keep the highways and roads safe for you and your family as well as everyone else who is travelling.