The purpose of this tool is to allow an agency to conduct a quick assessment of how well their current operations track with what are considered to be the best sustainable practices in the winter maintenance industry in North America. The intent is that an agency can use this tool to track over time the development of their operations as they move toward an evermore sustainable model of those operations.
As with any such tool, there are limitations to its use. First and foremost, sustainable practice is intended to reflect the needs of a given community, and thus not every community should employ every best practice indicated here. The purpose of the tool is NOT to say “look how many things you are not doing,” but rather to say “look what we are doing, and how we might be able to build upon what we are doing now, to become even better going forward.” So, do not expect to be able to “tick every box.” In fact, you should not even aim for that.
Another intent of tools such as this is to allow agencies to determine where they might most fruitfully put their efforts. There is no attempt here to say “this practice is more important than that practice,” although much could be said in that regard! However, each agency must decide for themselves which practices they can best introduce into their current operational format, given their resources, personnel, available budget, and community needs.
So, the primary purpose of this tool is to allow an agency to assess where they currently stand with regard to sustainable winter maintenance. Having done the assessment, the next step is to determine where to put their efforts into improvement, should they determine that such is needed. However, it can also be useful to have an award for current achievements, in order to celebrate an agency’s current achievement and hard work in getting to where they are today. The associated award program is described next.
Should agency members wish, their agencies can be considered for annual awards from the Professional Snowfighters Association. Awards are given at three levels (Silver, Gold, and Platinum). An agency’s score is determined by taking one point for each of the items in the self-assessment tool that the agency is successfully implementing. There are fifteen areas in the tool, each comprising five items. Thus the base score is 75 points. However, in each category an agency can identify bonus activities that the agency is undertaking. Up to five of these may be counted and added to an agency’s base score, for a possible maximum score of 80.
The scores required to achieve the three levels (Silver, Gold, Platinum) are 35, 45, and 60 respectively. If an agency wishes to be considered for an award, they must submit their completed self-assessment tool. Their agency will then be visited by a representative of the Professional Snowfighters Association to discuss the details of their self-assessment. Following the visit, a determination of the award level to be given to the agency will be made by the Professional Snowfighters Association.
To be considered for a given year’s awards, the agency must submit their self-assessment by July 31 of each year. The agency will be visited before October 31 of that year, and awards will be announced in November of each year.