Given the mountains of snow in Trail this season, it’s quite interesting that neighbours in higher elevations are reporting this winter has been nothing more than average.
Instead of snowfall being the major challenge, this year it’s been the very cold temperatures.
Those observations from Rossland, Warfield, Montrose, and Fruitvale translate monetarily into snow removals costs – all five municipalities report 2016 snow removal budgets were anywhere from 10 per cent to 33 per cent under budget.
With more snow in the valley than the past number of years, even Trail’s $560,000 snow removal allotment remains on course, though final tallies from December won’t be completed until month-end.
To date, approximately $370,000 has been accounted for in costs related to snow clearing.
Winter road sanding tops the list at almost $185,000, snow removal by city crews follows at $75,000, contractor snow removals reins in at $63,000, and approximately $32,000 was absorbed into winter sidewalk sanding and snow removal. Finally, winter property damage is noted at $13,700.
“The city also budgets for known and verified winter damage caused inadvertently while performing snow maintenance,” clarified Patrick Gauvreau, roads and grounds superintendent.
Lila Cresswell, Fruitvale’s CAO (chief administrative officer), points out that the budget does not match the season – council’s approved budget of $119,750 covers January to December but snow season is November to March.
“So we are already into the 2017 budget and of course, will plan accordingly,” she said, noting the village was 33 per cent, or $39,000 under budget in 2016. “We have experienced more snow this year than the last couple of years, however, this is more the norm according to public works. The last several years have been lower than normal and this year, so far, is more representative of seasons past.”
On top of the extended freeze, the challenge has been the amount of snowfall in each event.
“The larger amount, the faster we need to haul it away to keep the windrows down and ensure pedestrian safety,” Cresswell added. “The colder than usual temperatures have resulted in no thaw cycles so the snow is not compacting and the accumulations are larger than normal.”
Montrose reports a similar winter experience. The village was below its $40,000 snow removal budget but icy temperatures have led to an unusually high buildup.
“Due to the fact there has been little to no real snow melt, the village has been looking at some challenges storing the excess snow that has been cleared,” explained Montrose CAO Larry Plotnikoff. “That being said, the village’s public works crew has been doing a great job in keeping the roadways and intersections clear, and narrow lanes and alleys widened as much as possible, in what is proving to be very challenging winter weather.”
The story is similar in Warfield and Rossland – the city was well within it’s $445,000 budget, and the village fell below its $80,000 snow removal allotment.
Besides the recurring challenges such as parked cars impeding snow removal efforts and snow being shovelled onto the street instead of into yards – both municipalities report atypical problems related to the cold.
“We are having problems with frozen water lines this year,” said Jackie Patridge, Warfield’s corporate officer. “People need to remember to keep a small amount of water running through a tap when temperatures drop as low as they were last week.”
Higher up in Rossland, the colder climate has been remarkable, but snowfall has been nothing out of the ordinary.
“With this latest snowfall, I would definitely say that we are on par, if not a little bit light, from an average year,” says Manager of Operations, Darren Albo, noting 2016 snow removal will likely fall about 2o per cent below budget. “The only thing that stands out is the cold weather we’ve experienced the last few weeks – that’s it – from the snow removal point of view, it’s been good.”
He says frost levels are approximately four feet deep which has caused four sewer lines to freeze as well as a number of water lines.
“I attribute that with our water meters,” he said. “People are now fixing their leaking taps and toilets that’s why, in my opinion, we are experiencing this in areas that are not common,” Albo added. “We have some areas that we know<span class="