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Snow removal for recent storm costs City $250,000

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 06:00 am

A pair of road graders work to clear Yankee Valley Boulevard in the evening on Dec. 2. Graders, plows and sand and salt trucks were out in force throughout the course of the blizzard that wreaked havoc on Airdrie roads on Monday and Tuesday.
A pair of road graders work to clear Yankee Valley Boulevard in the evening on Dec. 2. Graders, plows and sand and salt trucks were out in force throughout the course of the blizzard that wreaked havoc on Airdrie roads on Monday and Tuesday.
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

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In response to the snowstorm that covered streets and made for traffic nightmares on Dec. 2 and 3, the City required extra services to help clear local roads, and it came with a hefty price tag.

The snow event cost the City $250,000 to contract out 12 trucks, five loaders and two graders to assist around the city.

The amount was not budgeted in City’s the 2013 operating budget, and will be recorded in the fourth quarter, as a variance expense.

“In the last two weeks, (the City) put down about 500 tons of gravel and salt mix, for comparison sake, we put down about 600 tons all of last winter,” Lorne Stevens, director of community infrastructure with the City of Airdrie said.

According to Stevens, the main priority for City-owned plows were the priority 1 and 2 routes, and the contracted services were employed to aid in the rest of the clean-up efforts.

Priority 1 routes are defined as the arterial roads, Airdrie Emergency Services facilities, school zones on school days and areas reported by the RCMP. Priority 2 routes include collector roads, roads with steep grades and during the spring melt areas with potential drainage issues and priority 3 routes are characterized as prioritized City-owned parking lots.

As of Dec. 15, blizzard recovery operations were complete, Stevens told council on Dec. 16. Figures for the Dec. 9 and 15 snowstorms were not known as of press time.

There is a dedicated snow/ice reserve with a current balance of $100,000 that could have been utilized to offset a good portion of the cost.

Council elected to not use the reserve funds, and rather issue the unexpected costs as a variance.

According to Stevens, over 2,000 hours of contracted equipment time was utilized during blizzard and blizzard recovery efforts.

Approximately 2,000 loads of snow were hauled to dump locations.

More than 30 plow blades (steel cutting edges) were replaced and over 2,300 phone calls were received.

Record snowfall, cold

According to Environment Canada from the beginning of November until Dec. 18, a total of 70 centimetres (cm) has accumulated on Airdrie streets.

That’s two-and-half times the normal accumulated amounts of 28 cm we normally see.

A snow event was issued by the City of Airdrie on Dec. 2 and 3 that left residents digging out from nearly 20 cm of snow and massive snow drifts.

“There’s been lots of snow,” Bill McMurty, meteorologist with Environment Canada said. “It’s a lot more than we normally see at this time of the year.”

Airdrie and surrounding areas were also hit with major snowstorms on Dec. 8 and 9 and 15, snow fall warnings were issued that called for 10 to 15 cm of snow on each day.

Arctic winds and more low-pressure systems are to blame for the winter wonderland, according to McMurty.

Temperatures have also dipped far below the normal with numerous day recording -30°C temperatures with wind chill far below the normal temperatures of -2°C.

The amount of snow caused numerous collisions on Airdrie streets and closed major highways for periods of time throughout the month.

RCMP and emergency first responders were kept busy Dec. 2 and 3 with RCMP reporting more than 79 calls on rural highways from vehicles that were in the ditch or stuck in snowbanks.

“It’s difficult for us because we only have so many four-wheel drive vehicles, and we’re out there on the roads too, the hardest part is just getting around and responding to all of these calls,” Staff Sgt. Gordon Sage from the Airdrie RCMP said on Dec. 3.


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