Sylvan Lake councillors approved a $150,000 emergency expenditure for snow clearing on all streets and roads in town, following the third major dump of the white stuff in the past month, at a special meeting last Wednesday.
By Tuesday, the town’s communications officer, Joanne Gaudet, reported crews had completed all residential streets and alleys just in time for another snowfall. Snow hauling was continuing for another couple of days to remove piles from roads that were left by graders.
John Watson, public works manager, reported last Wednesday’s meeting that approximately 30 per cent of residential roads have been cleared. By the end of last Thursday he anticipated 50 per cent completion. Crews were making “significant progress”, he said. All residential subdivision clearing will be completed as early as Saturday or as late as next Tuesday, barring unforeseen circumstances, Watson told councillors.
Those circumstances could be another major storm which was predicted in weather reports at the time for early this week.
The town has augmented its staff and fleet levels with “significant private sector forces” including three extra graders (working with two of the town’s), a cat dozer working at the snow dump in the area near the lagoons, eight contract trucks for snow hauling, in addition to the town’s two trucks, two contracted loaders working in alleys and clearing driveways plus two the town owns, and hiring a temporary staff member to fill a staff vacancy.
Snow clearing and removal crews worked 12-14 hour days and planned to work through the weekend until every road in town has been cleared and sanded.
Watson reported facilities clearing was nearing completion at such buildings as the RCMP detachment, fire hall and arena but some parking lots, including Railway Park Promenade, weren’t expected to be done by the weekend.
The early estimated cost of this snow event (the blizzard last Sunday night-Monday, Dec. 1-2), for contract services alone is $150,000 or approximately $18,000 per day. Overtime, fuel and other ‘in-house’ costs will add to the total expense but won’t been known for several weeks.
Councillors also requested expert advice when they review the snow clearing policy during 2014 budget deliberations in early January and financial ramifications of changing service levels.
Watson told councillors that in the last 13 years ‘C’ routes in town have only been cleared once or twice a year. This year, after the Nov. 2 snowfall they had no intention of going into those routes, but then after the Nov. 16 storm they had every intention of going into those routes. Then they were hit with a third major storm before they could get to all areas.