At this time last year, Prince George was mired under lots, and lots of snow.
That heavy snowfall, which taxed the city’s ability to remove it, also taxed the city’s snow removal budget.
Last year snow removal costs came in at $6.45 million when the budget was $5.8 million. The budget is for the calendar year, which includes the end of last winter and the beginning of this winter and does not include any capital costs.
“We had a lot of snow at the end of 2013 that we were cleaning up in the start of 2014,” said Gina Layte Liston, associate director of public works. “We had some very cold weather in January of 2014 so we had to go from removing snow to ice cutting, which a more expensive process.”
And, of course, the city ran into a political snowball in the early months of 2014 that led to council changing some of its snow removal procedures. Those changes, which included keeping some private contractors on retainer during the snow removal season, did come with a cost.
“We had some additional costs of the need for more equipment and operators, and that included having retainers for those graders,” Layte Liston said.
January 2015, however, has been a different story for the snow removal budget … at least for this month.
“We can never predict, obviously, what can happen, even in a couple of days,” she said. “We still have February and March and who knows what those snowfall events may be like.”
Another one of the changes council approved last year was a five-day timeframe to clean all city streets, as long as there isn’t another snowfall in that time.
“The crews have been meeting that five-day timeframe,” Layte Liston said. “Clean up looks great. That’s what I’m really happy about.”