DUDY – Some comparisons on how various cities handle snow removal

Posted on Facebook by Coun. Dieter Dudy:

IT SEEMS that snow removal (or lack thereof) is the topic of choice these days. Many seem to think that the City isn’t getting to the task quickly enough or isn’t providing the adequate amount of attention to ensure the streets are safe to navigate.

Coun. Dieter Dudy.

Some have gone so far to say that they either spend too much on taxes for what we get, while others are of the opinion that they don’t spend enough. I thought it might be an idea to draw some comparisons to help put things in perspective.

Now I know snow. I mean, I really know snow. I grew up in Kitimat where our average annual snowfall was in the order of 12-24 feet. Apparently, they don’t get snow like that anymore… however, last year they still managed to get 335cm.

This is a far cry from the 88.7cm we received in 2017. I remember an overnight snowfall in February 1974 that dumped over 50 inches on us…usually we’d only get amounts of 2-3 feet per event. Still significantly higher than what we see here.

I saw a lot of snow in Prince George too. Nothing, mind you like Kitimat but still significantly more than here. Last year’s accumulation came to 214 cm accompanied by much more cold than we’re used to. Even Nanaimo beat us out in the snow department last year with an annual snowfall of 139.4cm. The only comparable city to us that received less snow was Kelowna. They only managed 42.8cm or half of our total.

The City of Kamloops has an annual snow budget of $1.6 million and we exhausted that with our last snowfall in December 2017. The City of Kelowna with half the snow load has exactly the same budget as we do… and they managed to blow through more than half of it by February 2017.

Prince George has an annual budget of $7 million to do about 2.5 times the work we need to do. Kitimat spends in excess of eight per cent of their overall budget on snow removal. This in a city who has had a dwindling tax base over the years. Unfortunately, I could not find snow budget numbers for Nanaimo….but I wouldn’t imagine it’s too high as heavy snow is more of an anomaly than the rule.

In our case what does the budget pay for? You have wages, equipment costs (both capital and ongoing), fuel, materials (sand, mag etc.) to name a few. Is $1.6 million enough for the amount of snow we get in a given year (recognizing that some years we see next to no snow…and in others somewhat more)?

Can we justify the expense on a year to year basis given our historical weather? Kelowna’s budget is close to ours because the overall expense of snow removal is likely equal to ours… they have more of an area to cover. Having lived in Prince George I can tell you that their much more expensive snow removal did not necessarily give you a better end product.

Let’s assume we wanted to double our budget for snow removal. Are you prepared for a 1.6 per cent increase in taxes to accommodate that level of service? That’s the rate we’re looking at right now on the overall budget… without supplemental requests.

If we added an additional $1.6 million to the budget… we’d see and immediate increase of at least 3.2 per cent on our taxes.

Just increasing the amount of equipment and manpower isn’t going to address the issue of intersections… that regardless of the amount of sanding are still more hazardous than the main arteries. It doesn’t address the fact that there is no point in laying down mag in extreme cold as it simply doesn’t work.

We could haul away windrows… plus ensure drives aren’t blocked… access to sidewalks and bus stops are improved. Yes, those are things that could be done. It, however, all comes at a cost. Priority is given to arteries, then collectors, then side streets etc. if we want that changed or realigned then we’ll have to allow for the increased costs.

I truly believe that we need to find a way that meets the needs of all the people in the community without impacting their tax burden even more than we currently are. I also believe that safety is paramount and that we need to do what we can to address hazardous situations.

Above all I believe we need to keep things in perspective… winter driving is hazardous… period. We need to be aware of this, be patient, and slow down. The city crews are doing a great job with the resources they have at hand. Always open to suggestions though that will make it easier for them to get the job done.

Coun. Dieter Dudy can be contacted at

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6 Comments on DUDY – Some comparisons on how various cities handle snow removal

  1. We need to set the budget at $3 million. Each year if it comes in under that, keep it in the snow removal department until next year. So if we only spend $2.5 million. Carry over the $500,000 and next year we have $3.5 million. This way the good years that are under budget will cover the bad years that go over. But this is too simple of a solution…

  2. the first snow fall stumped the city

  3. And one more very important point needs to be brought forth. The City pretty much abdicates responsibility for enforcing the snow clearing bylaw and it happens every year. Some businesses and some home owners are very responsible and conscientious but many are not, even downtown.
    I do a lot of walking throughout the city in the winter months and I know first hand how difficult and dangerous winter can be and truly it should not be.

  4. Debra Budden // January 5, 2018 at 9:46 AM // Reply

    Double the budget. Find the money by reducing other costs. The main arteries are not even kept clear. Columbia has slush on it so deep that vehicles are fishtailing, and it hadn’t snowed for days. I believe that operators are not well trained, as they cannot seem to scrape the road clean. Remove the snow, and sand not salt. Sanding trucks put out random splats with nothing in between. Lease some graders and hire experienced operators. We have so many hills in Kamloops that we need excellence in the maintenance department.

  5. Why doesn’t the City impose a bylaw that states snow on residents driveways and sidewalks be moved onto their grass or property instead of on the street. I can say that my street alone is down to one lane due to the snow that residents have put onto the road and not on their lawns, where it is needed. That is why we get windrows after the plows have been though. It can be one way to cut back on the street cleaning.It would also eliminate the use of snow removal vehicles and equipment. Impose fines to those who continue to do this.

  6. Kamloops regularly gets snow, it is very spread-out and much of the city is on a hillside therefore its snow removal budget needs to be commensurable to the challenges it faces. But Kamloops cannot have a reasonable snow removal budget because Kamloops overspends in a myriad of ways. We spend millions on the annual flowers displays, millions on useless and poorly maintained landscaping projects, millions on repaving and repaving and repaving roads which were arguably not well built in the first place (at least some of them), millions on expensive recreation facilities, millions on heating and cooling poorly built civic buildings, millions on costs overruns on projects, millions on flood damage caused by poor planning, millions on an incredibly well paid (with delightful perks) work force, millions on on-going studies, millions on questionable minutiae spending and millions serving the debt we incurred with…you guessed it, overspending in the first place. I may be exaggerating…a little but the essence is thick and juicy.
    Like a typical middle-class Canadian family which wants it all and then ends up dining on mac&cheese in order to make it to the end of the month, Kamloops arguably does have a mac&cheese-like snow removal budget.
    I also did not miss the lines “I truly believe that we need to find a way that meets the needs of all the people in the community without impacting their tax burden even more than we currently are.” Almost four years into his mandate Mr. Dudy should spend much less time thinking about his re`election and more in “finding ways & solutions”…because writing an excuse price on Facebook is not worth the $ 40,000 a year we pay him…all in my humble opinion.

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