City still hoping to stay within 2014 snowclearing budget

Gary Kean
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Rayna Luther, the City of Corner Brook’s assistant director of operational service, addresses the Rotary Club of Humber Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

No one really needs convincing that Corner Brook — and just about everywhere else — is coming off one of the nastiest winters on record.

Now that the toughest cold season in years is — knock on wood — long gone, the City of Corner Brook’s assistant director of operational services shared some of the finer details of the city’s battle with winter with the Rotary Club of Humber Tuesday evening.

Underlying the figures laid out by Rayna Luther was the fact that Corner Brook saw 170 millimetres more rain and 94 centimetres more snow between October 2013 and March 2014 than it did during those same months in the previous year.

Between December and March, there were 66 days when the temperatures dipped to -10 C or colder.

Luther was citing numbers taken from a weather monitoring station located at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and maintained by longtime weather watcher John Wagner.

The city’s first run with a snowplow came Nov. 21 and the last time the plows were used was March 27. Crews were out cutting ice ruts on roads until mid-April.

The fleet of snowblowers did five complete runs of city streets this past winter.

The city went through about 2,750 tonnes of salt, which Luther said was actually a typical amount. However, the city did have to buy an extra 1,000 tonnes of sand to supplement the roughly 3,600 tonnes it had thought would last the winter.

“That’s because of the cold temperatures,” said Luther, explaining that salt is a futile melting agent when temperatures get down around -10 C.

Expectedly, the city had to deal with more frozen water line issues from residents, not to mention numerous municipal water main breaks and leaks.

The municipal customer service line dealt with an average of 500 calls per month. Not every call was a complaint, though, noted Luther.

“Some of those calls were from people who thanked us for the job we were doing,” she said.

The City of Corner Brook budgets $1.5 million for its snowclearing operations. The busy workload last November and December put last year’s budget over by around $200,000.

Luther said the city has already spent about $1 million from the 2014 budget and hopes the remainder will be enough to get through the end of 2014.

“November and December of this year are still on that same budget so, if November and December are nice to us this year, we may actually come in on budget,” she said.

Organizations: Rotary Club of Humber

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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