City considering increase to snow removal budget

City staff will consider raising the annual snow removal budget.

A report to council on Monday shows that 85% of this year's $1.6 million budget has already been spent, leaving November and December with roughly $24,000 of committed funds.

Public Works Manager Darryl Astofooroff says there's been a big spike in the number of calls for service over the last three years, despite not very much more snow.

"Other possible reasons for increasing service requests might include more hillside developments, a growing road network, greater number of snowfall events per year, and even though the total accumulation isn't very high at this time of year, we often receive many small events back-to-back. And also, changing expectations from citizens with regard to service levels," he said.

Astofooroff says Plan A is to increase the budget from $1.6 million up to an even $2 million.

"The preferred route is to increase the annual snow removal budget by $400,000 to enhance service levels, hire additional contractors to improve response time into residential Priority 3 streets, and add additional resources. Also, this would allow additional snow route, and would also help in rebuilding our snow reserves."

He says the $2 million spent last year wasn't all budgeted for, and which put a dent in the city's reserves.

"The analysis of the reserve over the last ten years shows that spending levels have increased, and the snow removal reserve is becoming depleted," he said.

"Growth, amount of hillside road designs, on-street bike lanes, cycle tracks, multi-use corridors have all added to the challenges of snow removal. There is no pattern within the weather data to actively forecast for the future. The financial reserves are depleted rapidly during winters with continual or extraordinary snow events."

The neighbourhoods of Black Mountain, Kirschner Mountain, and Academy Way were approved as snow routes on Monday, which gives the city more power to clear on-street vehicles while plowing big snow dumps.

An increase in the budget would allow the city to hire more contractors to clear snow over the winter.