Storm takes bite out of budget

Anthony Damonse

Monday morning was bright and clear but that didn’t mean snow clearing crews’ work was done. They spent the rest of the week pushing back the snowbanks in readiness for the next big dump.

Monday morning was bright and clear but that didn’t mean snow clearing crews’ work was done. They spent the rest of the week pushing back the snowbanks in readiness for the next big dump.

Anthony Damonse

City Engineering director Tim Gleig is satisfied with the performance of snow removal crews during Kitimat’s first storm of the New Year.

Kitimat was under a severe weather warning from Environment Canada for most of the January 14-16 weekend as more than 40 centimetres of powdery snow fell and blew in 70-80km/h wind gusts.

“We’re equipped for it, we had everybody out doing it,” said Gleig. “I had 46 different people – including our casuals – out working on it.”

He said crews worked around the clock, adding, “there isn’t anything else we can do besides that.”

There was a mechanical failure in one of the large snow blowers which did slow down clean up efforts.

He estimated weekend clean up costs around $150,000: $75,000 for labour and $75,000 for equipment operational costs.

But that number does not include any fees charged by private contractors.

Gleig said the greatest challenge to snow clearing efforts were cars in the road and snow cleared from private property onto roadways.

Snow is not allowed to be cleared from private properties onto roadways.

It takes crews about 12 hours to complete a snow clearing circuit around the city.

Crews also record which streets they have cleared and at what time the clearing happened.

“Five inches, three inches makes no difference if it snows all weekend,” ,” Gleig said, referring to the petition circulated by CAW local 2301.

To attempt to reduce expenditures in the wake of the loss of tax revenue due to the Eurocan closure, council chose to raise the standard for calling out municipal workers to clear snow.

An overnight snowfall of up to five inches will not start to be cleared until a regular shift of municipal workers is available, even over a weekend.