White Christmas could be costly

Each winter, City crews maintain 670km of road and 189km of sidewalks. In additional to plowing and sanding roads following a snowfall, general winter operations may include pothole repair, slashing and chipping overgrown lanes and roadways of trees and shrubs to improve visibility and drainage, and replacing damaged culverts as necessary to alleviate flooding concerns during spring thaw. City of Prince George photo taken February, 2018.
Each winter, City crews maintain 670km of road and 189km of sidewalks. In additional to plowing and sanding roads following a snowfall, general winter operations may include pothole repair, slashing and chipping overgrown lanes and roadways of trees and shrubs to improve visibility and drainage, and replacing damaged culverts as necessary to alleviate flooding concerns during spring thaw. City of Prince George photo taken February, 2018.

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

Everyone is hoping for a white Christmas and with snow forecast for later this week, we might just get one.

But what at what cost?

A big dump to snow costs the city about $150,000 per day to clean the streets, according to information provided to the city’s finance and audit committee last week.

With the city’s $7 million snow removal budget already overspent by close to $1.2 million this year, the lack of snow this fall has been a blessing for those trying to balance the books. And while the city is ready for snow, it doesn’t mean workers are sitting idly by waiting for the white stuff to come.

“When we have a snow event, obviously the work needs to be done in a five-day period, plus any additional clean up that happens,” Gina Layte Liston, director of engineering and public works, told the committee. “… With no snow out there right now we’re doing a lot more work when it ditch vegetation removal and those sorts of things. That is not charged to the snow budget.”

The city also has a ‘lack of work’ clause in the collective agreement so worker on specifically for snow removal, can take part of the day off if there is no snow. However, Layte Liston said, even on days when it is clear, there can be work for snow crews, such as anti-icing etc.

In addition, the city has private contractors on retainer to help with snow removal when a big dump comes.

The city pays $71,500 per month, from December through to April, to keep those contractors on retainer, said Dave Dyer, general manager of engineering and public works. That includes four graders with operators, two rentals without operators.