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Big dump of snow cost Kelowna taxpayers big bucks

Kelowna's response to the January snowstorm cost taxpayers over $500,000
March 27, 2015 - 2:34 PM

KELOWNA - The big dump of 2015 dropped a near-record amount of snow on Kelowna and cost taxpayers over a half-million dollars to clean up.

During the two-day snow storm, which began Jan. 3 and ended Jan. 5, about 37 centimetres of snow fell in and around the Central Okanagan.

At one point, snow was piling up at the rate of two inches every hour, requiring a response from 75 city workers plus an additional 12 private contractors with their own snow removal equipment. They removed some 300 truckloads of snow from downtown Kelowna and another 500 truckloads throughout the city, while responding to 741 service requests.

The final bill was $510,000, according to Darryl Astofooroff, the city's public works manager.

In his report to council, Astofooroff describes the difficulties staff had in responding to what qualifies as an extreme snow event in the Okanagan.

The number of parked vehicles crews encountered was compounded by it being garbage pick-up day in many parts of the city. Renting extra equipment became a problem as many contractors were responding to their own customer requests.

The sheer volume of snow clogged streets, but also sidewalks, bike lanes and private driveways. Crews were limited to 12 hour shifts under the National Safety Code, further complicating the response.

While the city says it met most of its goals clearing priority routes and answering service requests, it is considering parking restrictions on designated snow routes, hiring additional contractors and purchasing specialized equipment.

The report also recommends improved communications through regular news releases and media conferences, the use of social media and coordination with the Central Okanagan school district on possible school closures.

City councillors will receive the report at their Monday, March 30 council meeting.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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