Estimated costs for snow removal in Williams Lake should come under budget for 2017, the city’s director of municipal services said Monday.
“Our annual budget is about $750,000 and in 2017 we were right in between the $650,000 and $700,000-range,” Gary Muraca told the Tribune.
“Our costs aren’t all in, but that’s where we are at.”
Muraca said since he has been keeping track, 2014 was the biggest snowfall year and 2017 was pretty close to it with about 1.4 metres of snow falling throughout the year.
When temperatures are above zero or down to around -8C to -10C, public works uses salt on the roads or a mixture of salt and sand, he explained.
“At a certain level, when the temperatures fall below the -10C to -15C range, we’ll use sand on the roads. The problem we have is the sand won’t stick to the roads at that time so we pre-wet our sand with magnesium chloride so the sand will burn into the compact snow.”
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Public works is trying something new by having two of the city’s eight operators working eight-hour shifts on Sundays.
“We have never had coverage on Saturdays and Sundays,” Muraca said. “It seems to be working really well.”
Through the City’s snow policy, public works has to plow if two inches or more of new snow falls.
“We have staff on call and the first thing they do is drive all the roads and determine if we need to plow,” he said. “We consciously make a decision to go or not to go.”
When snow accumulations result in narrow roadways, public works normally goes out to remove snow, he added.
“Some residents are putting out their garbage two or three days before pick up or they are not moving their cars and that creates a real obstacle for operators and it affects our service level,” Muraca said. “I don’t think I have ever seen it so bad as I have this winter.”
If there are many garbage cans all down a street then it will get missed, he warned, as he encouraged residents not to be the reason their street doesn’t get snow removal.
In early January the City’s bylaw department reminded residents of the city’s sidewalk snow removal policy that snow must be removed from sidewalks by residents within 24 hours of a snowfall.
Muraca confirmed there have been complaints from residents who have shovelled a sidewalk only to have the city sand trucks come by later and plow snow up onto the sidewalk.
“If that happens, we will come and clear the sidewalk for them because we want to encourage people to do the sidewalks so if we’re doing something mistakenly, we will come and fix it,” he said.
“They just need to call public works, we will come and investigate, and if we did it we will get rid of it.”
While the snow removal equipment is holding up well, the city has replaced a loader blade and purchased a hook truck which will both go into operation next fall.
A hook truck can be used for sanding and watering, he said, noting it will be ready for use by the summer.