No change to snow-removal rules this year

By David F. Rooney

In a matter of months the snow will fly here in town and, with it, the annual debate over snow removal: are the City’s plans adequate or a case of over-planning and over-kill?

City Council has been discussing snow removal in an on-again/off-again fashion all year and, during their regular meeting as a Committee of the Whole last Tuesday, agreed to send all contractors who work with the City a mail-out noting the rules for this year:

  1. They must sign up their equipment by Oct. 2;
  2. Rates for trucks will be $85/hour with a 180-hour guarantee for December, January and February. November and March will be on-call months;
  3. The rate for loaders will be “10 per cent above blue book” with a 100-hour guarantee, down from the 122-hour guarantee of previous years for December-February and November and March being on-call months;
  4. The same rules will apply to breakdowns and no-shows as last year, meaning those would be counted against the companies’ guaranteed time.

“We don’t perform any duties that don’t need to be performed,” Darren Komonoski, operations manager for the Department of Engineering and Public Works.

He said that, contrary to what some people think, the City is required to maintain a high standard of clearance for the benefit of emergency vehicles. Failing to do that could cost people’s property, and even lives.

He also noted that it benefits citizens and the City to have loaders and trucks who work the same areas all winter.

“We can’t send equipment and operators to different areas if they don;t know them or we’ll be repairing damage until June every year,” Komonoski said.

Councillor Tony Scarcella has long argued against dedicating bags of cash — about $900,000 a year — to snow removal, arguing that snow removal should be performed on an as-needed basis.

Mayor David Raven said he understands “the concerns about finances” but “is kind of in favour” of the advance planning with dedicated contractors.

Council vote 5-1 in favour of the plan. Scarcella was the sole Councillor opposed.