It may be a little early to be thinking about a snow day with forest fires still burning in the region, but the arrival of the white stuff was on the minds of the city recently, as it tried to predict the season to come.
With snow removal costs doubling in the early part of this year — from January to March at $740,000 compared to $370,000 in the same period in 2021 — after “Snowmagedon,” the city has opted to bump the snow removal budget up for the remaining part of 2022.
Additional budget was added this year to ensure funds would be available for the November and December snowfall period, said city chief financial officer Chris Jury in his second quarter report to council recently.
But the budget can only be increased a small amount, said Mayor John Dooley. It did not make economic sense for the city to take on extra “person” power to have on call in the city yards when the snow hits later this year.
He noted that $740,000 is around a seven or eight per cent tax increase alone, as it relates to the total city budget.
“So, for us to just go out there and grab another $740,000 each year, and charge the taxpayer for it, for something that we don’t know is going to happen, makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “We are going to have to be adapting and adjusting to these (snow) events.”
Part of that adapting is getting people to come onside with the city and be proactive in shoveling their walks after a snowfall, Dooley pointed out.
“(A)nd not dump their snow out on the street after the plow goes by; we are all in this together,” he said.
Coun. Keith Page referred to the city’s Snow and Ice Removal Policy, adopted last fall, and lobbied for snow removal on some of the city’s walking routes to be elevated in priority over having every last roadway cleared.
He also wanted to change the language of the policy from a recommendation to shovel the residential sidewalk after a snowfall, to a fine if ticketed for not doing so.
The city needed “to send the message that we are really asking you to shovel your walk,” he said. “Until we have more people taking care of their walks and their boulevards we are going to have an awkward walking environment.”
He called for some programming in the policy to do so.
“There needs to be a deeper program there. Is that something we can action?” he asked city manager Kevin Cormack.
“The new council can certainly consider that policy,” Cormack replied.
General capital projects update
Piles on the Hall Street Pier were required to be sunk deeper than initially planned due to the depth of the silt base.
“In a high inflation environment, the team has worked hard to find efficiencies where possible,” said Jury in his report to council. “The project is looking to be at in line with budgeted by year end, but will likely need some additional expenditures in 2023 to complete some finishes and landscaping.”
• The Cottonwood Park washroom is being constructed, and electrical work for the washroom, stage, and other areas should be finished by November.
• The Civic Centre grant-funded revitalization plan is still taking shape with a consultant being hired to manage the project.
“This will allow for a financial analysis of the project, considering the stakeholders and grant funding requirement, and help develop a budget and preferred delivery method for the project,” said Jury.
Source: City of Nelson agenda