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The high cost of snow: Mission spends hundreds of thousands to keep roads clear

The heavy snowfall this winter was more than just inconvenient for local residents. The cost of keeping the roads as clear as possible has drained the district’s snow-removal budget, and more expenses are expected. - Thinkstock image
The heavy snowfall this winter was more than just inconvenient for local residents. The cost of keeping the roads as clear as possible has drained the district’s snow-removal budget, and more expenses are expected.
— image credit: Thinkstock image

It has been an expensive winter for the District of Mission.

The unusually heavy snowfall from December to February has negatively impacted the district’s snow clearing budget for both 2016 and 2017.

In 2016, the district spent $477,000 to clear roadways, $29,000 more than the $448,000 budgeted for the year. Two-thirds of the entire 2016 snow-clearing budget was spent in December alone.

It appears that 2017 will be a similar story as the district has already spent $431,000 of its $444,000 budget on road cleaning and there are still some outstanding invoices and equipment costs to be factored in, as well as any road-clearing costs that will be incurred in November and December of 2017.

“This kind of weather is very, very rare,” said Tracy Kyle, the district’s director of engineering and public works.

To put this winter’s costs into perspective, in a three-month span – December 2016 to February 2017 – the district spent a total of $712,000 for snow removal.

About 45 per cent of the cost was for staffing, 30 per cent for equipment, 20 per cent for salt, and five per cent for sand.

And more costs are expected.

“The snow, I think we can hopefully say, is gone now, but you go out on the road and you see a whole bunch of sand that wouldn’t normally be there,” said Kyle.

The district will have to spend extra money this year to clean up the sand, which won’t begin until the wet weather slows down.

The sand is also getting pushed down to the district’s catch basins, which will also have to be cleaned more than normal.

In total, 2,100 tonnes of sand and 1,600 tonnes of salt were used.

Another extra cost was tree removal after the ice storm knocked down branches all over the area.

“It’s not just, ‘The snow’s gone, so we are done spending,’ ” said Kyle.

Another cost is the damage to local roads, caused by the snow and ice.

Potholes and raised sidewalks will also have to be fixed.

Many of the damaged sections of roadway are on the two provincial highways – Highways 7 and 11, including the Mission Bridge – which will have to be repaired by provincial crews.

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