City says growth in Kamloops calls for bigger snow-clearing budget

By Chad Klassen
June 12, 2018 - 5:27pm

KAMLOOPS — It's nearing the beginning of summer, but the discussion at City Hall on Tuesday was about winter, in particular snow removal. The city's civic operations department was asking for a $400,000 increase to its snow clearing budget, arguing staff can't keep up with growth across Kamloops. 

"What we've seen in Batchelor, Aberdeen, Juniper, all that growth is within the hills. So with that, our resources are becoming a bit more depleted," said the city's streets and environmental services manager Glen Farrow. "We are starting to struggle in hitting our service levels for local roads, so in particular the One Zone where we have one truck that covers all of Batchelor, Westsyde, Heffley and Rayleigh. So having one truck for that significant of an area has been a bit of a struggle."

The ask for an increase, which would bring the annual budget to $2 million, comes on the heels of Kelowna approving a $400,000 budget increase to its $1.6 million snow removal allowance last month. 

In kamloops, the $400,000 increase would go towards three additional staff, one for each shift, as well as two new trucks, and another grader.

"We're also looking at modifications to some of our equipment, having blades that extend out to three feet, so doing a better job of those pedestrian shoulders," Farrow noted. "Not being just concerned about the roads, but looking after sidewalks and those wider shoulders."

The idea of a snow removal bump is something city council acknowledged at Tuesday's workshop. 

"We have added a significant number of kilometres of new roads in Kamloops," said mayor Ken Christian. "By asking staff to clean to the same service level while we keep adding roads and sidewalks is really unfair. So we really need to look at some kind of an increase that would reflect the growth of the city."

Farrow noted the three additional workers will work all-year round, helping with street repairs during the spring and summer. However, councillor Denis Walsh said on Tuesday money would be better spent on contractors, not on more staff. 

"The snow issues take place from November until March, so it's a five-month period and we want to hire for 12 months," said Walsh. "So to me, I think we should just do the contracting because otherwise we have seven months that we have to fill their time until the next snowfall."

A decision on the $400,000 request will be made in November. 

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