By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With a heavy snowfall blanketing the Eastern Townships early Tuesday afternoon, local snow removal workers began to mobilize in preparation for a long night.
Gabriel Magee, the owner of Les entretiens Magee, told The Record that the key is making sure the machines are greased up and running right. It’s also a small operation, he explained, as he works alongside his wife and father.
“I’m the one that goes out no matter what, but then they also come out depending on how much snow we get and how fast it falls,” said Magee.
However, there are curfew rules to consider in Quebec. No one is allowed out after 8 p.m. unless they meet the exemption requirements listed on the government’s website. Magee needed to double-check with the Sherbrooke Police Service before gearing up.
“We still have to have our permit slips because we can be stopped by police,” said Magee, adding that the SPS told him if he were to be pulled over without the proper slips, he could be subject to a major fine.
Magee has been running a lawn care and snow removal business for seven years, but he recalls mowing lawns as early as 12 years old. He just went door-to-door, covering as much ground as possible.
Now the 29-year-old has nearly 100 clients spanning Sherbrooke’s North end neighbourhood. Magee said the best part of his job is snow removal. It takes roughly eight to 16 hours to clear all of his clients, depending on the snowfall.
“We need to make sure everyone can leave to go to work in the morning and everyone can come back at the end of the day,” he Magee. “Tonight I might leave at 11 and I won’t stop until most like 4 o’clock in the morning.”
Jim Davidson also clears snow in the winter, however, he isn’t a contractor like Magee. Davidson covers most of Lennoxville, serving 150 clients in the area. His father started cleaning neighbours’ driveways in the 1970s.
Davidson works for Bishop’s University as a network administrator, dealing with routers, switches, and firewall issues on a daily basis. But when there’s a significant snowfall, he puts on his snow removal cap, just like his father did back in the day.
“I do what I can do as soon as I can get there,” he said. “I’m not in trouble if I don’t get there within ‘x’ number of hours, but I find I usually get there nearly as fast as the city does.”
The cost of his service varies on time and amount of snow. He sends clients a year-end invoice, rather than charging them at the start of the winter season. And while he lends a hand to people stuck in snow here and there, he tries not to deviate from his long-time clients.
“In a big snowstorm sometimes people will flag me down and ask for help, but I’ve got to be cautious of that because if I stop there and spend time there I’m delaying getting to my faithful regulars,” said Davidson.