Winter of our discontent

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Image: Samantha Maciag: CJME

Image: Samantha Maciag: CJME

The city is about $1.3 million over budget for snow removal already

Article: Colton Hordichuk – Contributor

With two months of winter left in 2013, the City of Regina has already spent approximately $1.3 million over budget on snow removal.

Winter maintenance expenses went up in a variety of areas like sidewalk plowing, street plowing and sanding.

Chris Warren, manager of winter maintenance at the City of Regina, said that the city’s budget is highly dependent on its annual winter maintenance policy.

“Depending on how much snow we get, how big the snow ridges get, how wide they get. You know, it will dictate according to the policy when we need to remove that snow,” Warren said.

“We’re basically a very weather-dependent operation and when it snows we’re going to be out there following that policy as close as we can.”

One of the more interesting programs in the policy is the objective category, which outlines in numerical order the city’s snow removal priorities. For example, their number one concern is to ensure that all roads are clear for emergency responsive vehicles. Their least concern is with removing snow in parks and on pathways.

[pullquote]“Depending on how much snow we get, how big the snow ridges get, how wide they get. You know, it will dictate according to the policy when we need to remove that snow”[/pullquote]

If anyone is familiar with the street conditions in Regina, it’s Terry Simonson, President at Jays Moving Company. Like many other Regina citizens, Simonson is impressed with the city’s snow removal efforts over the last few years.

“I moved from a different city where the snow removal wasn’t anywhere near up to par like Regina, and you can see four or five graters going down the street at one time and clearing everything off, pushing it off to the side, just doing a fantastic job,” Simonson, who is originally from Saskatoon, commented.

Moving forward, the city is already changing over their summer equipment to make it efficient for the winter months. In addition, on the financial spectrum, Warren and the city are also currently working out a new budget for 2014.

“We take a look at the previous five winters and we just do an average summary of how much we typically spend in an average season, and then that way we can forecast what we might end up spending,” Warren said.

In the last three years, Regina has been faced with record snowfalls. Specifically, the 2012-2013 season, which had 196 centimeters of snow fall on the Queen City. The previous record was set in 1955-1956, when the city saw 165.7 centimeters of snow. Warren added that all the city can do during the winter season is “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Despite the increased budget though, the city is not concerned about their finances yet. Warren also said there have been years when the city has been under budget, and the money left over goes into a reserve fund. Deducting the $1.3 million from this past year, they still have approximately $2.7 million left over for future maintenance.

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