News Online: More than half of year’s total budget for snow removal already spent: city

Published online at on February 28, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, February 28, 2011

More than half of year’s total budget for snow removal already spent: city

The city has spent more than half of its yearly snow removal budget this past January alone.

About $24 million was spent on snow removal in January, which is double what it usually costs to clear snow during that month, the city announced on Monday.

That figure is expected to climb even higher once final numbers come in for February.

“We dont have the numbers in for February but it will probably be higher than the average cash flow because the hired graders were continuing to work in the neighbourhoods until the end of that first week,” Brice Stephenson, the city’s transportation operations manager, said on Monday.

The total budget for snow removal for 2011 is $42.8 million and is based on a five-year average.

Stephenson said the massive snow storm in January forced a lot of extra costs onto the city.

“We had to go beyond because there was a severe snow event, there were a lot of additional expenses because of the hired equipment that was called in. The graters, the trucks, bulldozers at the snow sites to push the snow, those things in combination are what adds to the costs,” he said.

Crews are working round the clock to clear main roads after the weekend’s snow fall but Stephenson said clearing residential areas don’t appear to be a problem this time around.

“People are not having difficulties within residential areas,” he said. “This is pretty normal response, we havent had a lot of concerns.”

But snow fall and freezing tempeatures aren’t going away anytime soon.

“Unfortunately we have snow in the forecast every day, except for tomorrow, for the next seven days and temperatures are heading down into the -30s once again,” said Global chief metereologist Nicola Crosbie.

Along with clearing snow, city crews are also continuing work on windrow removal and helping to clear catch basins.

The department of transportation is also working on a report for city council. The report will deal with what to change in terms of the snow clearing strategy.

“Buying some more equipment that we should be able to have in place for next fall which will help us respond more quickly to all kinds of events. We’re looking at some emergency plans for major snow events because that’s obviously a weakness in our snow policy,” said Coun. Don Iveson.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had in the past is relying so heavily on contracted graders,” said Coun. Kim Krushell.

“A lot of people don’t realize that right now out of the 110 equipment we have in the city, only 20 of those are graders. That’s not a lot of graders. We need more graders, we need more equipment. We’re going to have to look at that.”

That report is expected to be presented to council on March 8.

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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