Downtown snow clearing heats up council debate

Vernon council voted Tuesday to continue with the current level of snow removal in the downtown core

A Vernon politician questions if more should be done to keep downown clear of snow.

Council voted Tuesday to continue with the current level of snow removal in the downtown core, but Coun. Catherine Lord says an additional $15,000 may provide sufficient funds to improve the effort.

“It was pretty bad for awhile,” she said of conditions after recent snowfall.

City staff says a larger budget may help but removal of snow depends on snowfall actually stopping and the priority is public safety on the roads.

“It takes three days after a major event to plow the roads and then we can move in to remove snow,” said James Rice, public works manager.

Snow removal currently consists of city crews operating two graders and a front-end loader with a snow blower, and up to 12 contractor dump trucks with trailers.

“The operation also requires a traffic control crew to ensure worker and public safety,” said Rice in a written report.

“Removal must be conducted between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when traffic volumes are low.”

The city’s 2016 snow removal budget is $130,000 and $35,000 of that is for the downtown core.

Rice says removal of snow downtown takes one to two nights to complete at a cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per snowfall.

“The existing budget allows the city to conduct snow removal operations twice a year,” he said.

“If council instructed administration to complete snow removal operations in thew downtown core following accumulations of 10 centimetres or greater, the estimated frequency of removals would increase from two times a year to six at an additional cost of $60,000 to $80,000.”