News / Calgary

Calgary storm ‘exposed a few weaknesses’ in snow clearing system: Nenshi

Calgary appears to be within its snow-removal budget for the year, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the city should look at bolstering its fleet in the future to handle large snowfalls like what’s been experienced in the past week.

“This storm has exposed a few weaknesses but I don't think it has exposed a major problem with the entire system," Nenshi said Tuesday.

The mayor added that the city needs to strike “the right balance” when it comes to buying its own plows, sanders, and other equipment, versus contracting out additional service when needed.

"We could spend millions of dollars on equipment that's only used once a year or once every two years,” the mayor added. “We could reach out to the private sector more to utilize their equipment.”

Coun. Ray Jones, whose northeast ward has been hit particularly hard by snowdrifts, questioned why it took the city several days to deploy tow trucks to help people extricate stranded cars.

"I remember three years ago, when we added $10 million to the budget, I'm positive – or I'm almost positive – that we decided at that time that we would dedicate a plow and a truck to those kinds of areas that were blocked in, right off the bat, so they wouldn't have to wait four or five days,” he said. “I want to know what happened to that service."

Jones plans to raise the issue at Monday’s council meeting.

Snow spending:

  • Calgary’s snow and ice control budget for 2013 is $34 million, according to transportation spokesperson Carissa Vescio.
  • As of the end of November, she said $21.5 million had been spent, and it appears the city will come in under budget for the year, as a whole.
  • If there is an extraordinary amount of snow in the rest of the December and the budget is exhausted, Vescio said another $3.5 million is available in a reserve fund council created in 2012.

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