Calgary wraps up winter with more money in snow-clearing budget than expected

The city says the budget for snow and ice removal from Calgary streets is flush with cash as we wrap up a relatively mild winter.

Chris McGeachy, a spokesperson for the city’s roads department, told Global News the city is actually ending the winter having spent about $5 million less on snow clearing than was anticipated.

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The City of Calgary had an annual snow-clearing budget of $40.9 million between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

“To date, we have spent approximately $14.5 million,” McGeachy said. “We had anticipated we’d be somewhere around $19.5 million at this time of year.”

“Due to the way this winter happened we obviously didn’t have the kind of expenditures that we might have in a normal year,” McGeachy said.

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“Every winter is different. This one, we had a couple of very heavy accumulations and not really a lot of those smaller, more consistent storms that we would see, so we do have a little extra in the bank should we have some extreme snow in the (upcoming) winter.”

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If the city is under budget when Dec. 31 comes, the leftover money is put into a snow and ice control reserve fund.

“It’s a pool of money that we have on hand should there be an exceptionally snowy year,” McGeachy said.

“If you go back the past few years our budget has been in and around $40 million — between $38 and $40 million — over the past four or five years. We have a good idea what snow removal with our current policy costs.”

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McGeachy said every winter poses different challenges, but the greatest curveballs are when we see “extreme snow events.”

“That’s when we need additional bodies, probably additional materials — and that can impact the costs of snowfalls — but typically we know an average snowfall with our seven-day plan can cost anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million and that’s what we’ve budgeted for.”

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Though there is a potential for flurries in Thursday’s forecast, spring is underway and the City of Calgary will soon launch its annual street sweeping program.

McGeachy said details of the city’s 2021 spring street cleaning will be announced next week.

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More information on the city’s seven-day snow clearing policy or the annual spring clean-up street clearing program can be found on Calgary.ca.

— with files from Sarah Offin, Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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