Snow removal not just a question of money for the City of Vernon

FILE PHOTO

VERNON - Improving snow removal services in Vernon carries quite a price tag, although it's not just about money, Vernon councillors learned this week.

After getting complaints this winter, council asked the public works department if it would be possible to speed up snow removal in the downtown core during major weather events.

“It was pretty bad for a while,” Coun. Catherine Lord said.

Public works manager James Rice said the city’s 2016 budget for snow removal is $130,000, of which $35,000 is for the downtown core. City policy is for crews to provide snow removal services in the downtown core, 27 Street, Highway 97 and select problem areas only.

“Snow is removed only in situations where lack of adequate storage prohibits the normal winter movement of vehicular and / or pedestrian traffic and for reasons of safety such as sight restrictions at intersections,” Rice said in a report to council.

The current budget allows the city to conduct just two snow removal operations in the downtown core a year. According to Rice, it takes a couple days to clear the area at a cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per event.

“An improved level of service would require additional funding. As an example, if council instructed administration to complete snow removal operations in the downtown core following accumulations of 10 centimetres or greater, the estimated frequency of removals would increase from two times a year to six at an additional cost of $60,000 to $80,000,” Rice said.

Rice added the limiting factor in the timeliness of snow removal often has nothing to do with funding at all though. He said crews can only schedule operations after a snow event when all roads and sidewalks have been plowed and there is a forecasted period of dry weather.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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