Summerside woman spurs action after city dumps snow, road scrapings on garden

·3 min read
Kim Lyon says she was upset to see a pile of road scrapings, right, made up of snow, salt and asphalt piled on the organic garden, left, she grew in the summer. (Kim Lyon - image credit)
Kim Lyon says she was upset to see a pile of road scrapings, right, made up of snow, salt and asphalt piled on the organic garden, left, she grew in the summer. (Kim Lyon - image credit)
Kim Lyon says she was upset to see a pile of road scrapings, right, made up of snow, salt and asphalt piled on the organic garden, left, she grew in the summer.
Kim Lyon says she was upset to see a pile of road scrapings, right, made up of snow, salt and asphalt piled on the organic garden, left, she grew in the summer.(Kim Lyon)

The city of Summerside is reviewing its guidelines for snow clearing after a homeowner raised concerns when a pile of snow loaded with road salt and asphalt scrapings was dumped on her organic garden.

Kim Lyon says she spent thousands of dollars planting tomatoes, herbs, beets, potatoes and other vegetables and flowers on the south side of her property last summer.

She fears the salty snow has caused significant damage to the soil and plants.

"I was standing at the window and I watched a snowplow going by and they basically put four feet of very dirty, slushy snow and salt scrapings from the road all over the garden," she said.

"It just seemed really wrong to me, to put that stuff. I went out and looked at it and I was pretty upset because I understand what salt does to gardens."

I was pretty upset because I understand what salt does to gardens. — Kim Lyon

That was on Feb. 22. She contacted her councillor, Norma McColeman, that day and she quickly responded.

Lyon said the city has been good about responding to her emails, but as of Saturday nothing had been done.

In an email Friday, the Summerside CAO Ron Philpott apologized to Lyon and agreed to "clean up what it can." The email also said the city is "working on some guidelines which will be communicated to residents, regarding the marking and delineation of areas that our snow clearing operations will seek to avoid in future."

This picture taken March 13 shows the damage to Kim Lyon's lawn and her organic garden buried beneath a pile of dirty snow.
This picture taken March 13 shows the damage to Kim Lyon's lawn and her organic garden buried beneath a pile of dirty snow. (Kim Lyon)

In an interview with CBC on Saturday, McColeman said those guidelines could include signs alerting the plow operators, or implementing a system where residents could notify the city of gardens or other sensitive areas on private property to be mindful of.

"If the crews are not aware that there is anything under the dead of snow, or if it's a weather system and a big storm, they have no idea unless the residents would have some type of a designation."

Plow operators try to work quickly

McColeman said for safety reasons, plow operators are often trying to clear the roads as quickly as possible and need to pile the snow somewhere.

"As I say and I do as a comparison with Charlottetown, if you're from Charlottetown you see what Charlottetown does, they leave it in the middle of the road, so I mean I think when when we're dealing with a very short street, they only have so much area from say the curb to the property owner, and they try to do the best they can."

Lyon said she understands the need for safety and plowing the snow, and understands the need for a certain amount of salt. But she said her circumstance was different.

"This wasn't snow. Snow we don't mind. They can put as much snow as they want on our yard during the winter. This was the road scrapings."

She would like to have the dirty snow trucked away as it is cleared.

"This will be ongoing and it will affect everybody or a lot of people over time it's not just a simple, 'Oh, I got hurt' sort of thing," she said.

"I don't want anybody punished, I don't want to create problems. I just don't want something like this to happen again."

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