Stories From the Wintry Field

Posted on February 06th, 2019

For Development Compliance Officer, Aldrin Escuadro, proper footwear and socks helps are critical when working outside for longer periods.
For Development Compliance Officer, Aldrin Escuadro, proper footwear and socks helps are critical when working outside for longer periods.

It’s officially winter in Edmonton. While many of us begin to take refuge indoors with hot beverages in tow, City of Edmonton staff on the Infill Compliance, Development Compliance, and Development Permit Inspection teams continue to venture outdoors, visiting both active construction developments and completed infill properties to ensure they’re built in a positive manner ─ promoting safe, tidy and considerate infill.

With temperatures of more than -30 Celsius, members of these teams share their thoughts on how to keep warm in the city, and how to embrace and enjoy the frigid temperatures.  These tips will make you feel like as if the winter is a summer heatwave ─ keeping you toasty until our hibernation is over.

Cover it up

For Jordan McArthur, a Development Permit Inspection Officer, a growing beard is ideal protection from the cold. For others, warming accessories might include a scarf, gloves and toque. In absence of these, temporary hand warmers are also a solution.

“Proper headwear is essential for those of us who are follicly challenged,” jokes McArthur. “I’ve still got a thick lustrous beard, though, and it keeps me warm whenever I’m out on an inspection.”

He added, “As we often have to manipulate various equipment, like phones, cameras, and measuring tape, gloves that are nimble yet warm help.”

For Aldrin Escuadro, a Development Compliance Officer, it’s all about layers. “Pile it on.  Throughout the day, you’re able to add or remove items as needed. Pro tip: you can never go wrong with a thick pair of socks.”

He added, “The ‘better safe than sorry’ approach is what I employ when I know I’m going to be outdoors. You never know what the conditions are going to be, or how long an inspection may take to complete.”

For Darren Anderson, a Community Standards Peace Officer and a member of the Infill Compliance Team, their team’s uniforms often serve as an insulating layer, thick enough to block the wind and cold air.

High tea

Everyone likes a warm beverage on a frigid day. But for our inspectors, it’s a different type of high tea. As they navigate the city, inspectors frequent local coffee shops or fill up their own thermoses, to keep their internal body temperature at a warmer level during cold months.

As Anderson notes, “We try to take in calories steadily throughout the day. Like many during the winter season, we try to carb up while we’re working outside.”

Inside Out

Inspectors like McArthur note time management as an opportunity to keep warm.  “I try and limit taking notes until I’m back in a vehicle.”  

“Be smart, and switch between indoors and outdoors periodically to recalibrate body temperature,” says Escuadro. “Try and stay inside the car as best as you can to warm up and even have a hot beverage handy to keep your body temperature warm.”  Anderson added, “Once we’re in our cars, since we work in teams, we often check up on one another, to make sure we’re okay.”

Get a grip

Penguins waddle for balance, helping them navigate the southern hemisphere. Winter explorers and pioneers often use snowshoes. For inspectors like McArthur, it’s all about the shoes.

“Shoes with proper grip is essential. I find myself stomping around in deep snow and icy sidewalks. This is your first line of defence from a face-first snow collision.”

Escuadro offers similar advice. “We conduct our inspections entirely by foot. We make sure that our footwear is high enough to cover our ankles from snowbanks, and to avoid wet/cold socks!”

Community Standards Peace Officer Darren Anderson notes how his uniform serves as an insulating layer from frigid, frosty temperatures.

Winterized

After a fresh snowfall, buildings and the cityscape get a wintry patina. And as much as the colder months may impact people’s experience of the city, for our inspectors, it defines theirs and Edmonton’s resilience.

“As heavy as the winter can be, Edmonton is always on standby ready to take it on,” says Escuadro. “I feel that we have a readiness for winter that other municipalities can learn from. We continuously find new and improved ways to better our methods. Winter festivities like Ice Castles and Deep Freeze help us embrace our winter roots. Go outside, stay warm!”

About the teams

These teams were initiated in 2014 when infill was made a priority. 

  • The Infill Compliance team responds to citizen complaints regarding infill construction sites
  • The Residential Infill Development Approvals team deals with infill development permit applications
  • The Development Compliance team inspects infill projects to ensure they conform to conditions/plans listed in their approved development permit