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Corner Brook spent $330,000 on snowclearing in January

A City of Corner Brook employee moves a load of sand from the pile outside the salt shed on O'Connell Drive on Thursday. The sand was moved to inside the shed where it was later loaded onto a sand truck.
A City of Corner Brook employee moves a load of sand from the pile outside the salt shed on O'Connell Drive on Thursday. The sand was moved to inside the shed where it was later loaded onto a sand truck. - Diane Crocker

Monitoring snowclearing in Corner Brook is a constant job for Don Burden.

From checking numbers to see how the city is doing budget wise, to tracking the amount of snow that falls makes winter a busy time for the city’s director of public works, water and wastewater.

For 2018 the city has a budget of $1.89 million to cover snowclearing — which includes salting and sanding — from January to December.

Burden said that amount is up $96,500 from the $1.8 million that was allotted in 2017.

The increase has nothing to do with changes in service levels, but rather will go to the lease of two new loaders starting this fall. The new machines will replace two others in the city’s snowclearing fleet.

So far for this year, Burden said the budget is right on track. The city spent about $330,000 on snowclearing in January — the actual amount it had budgeted for the month.

Burden explained that the total snowclearing budget is split over the months of the winter season — November, December, January February and March.

“But it’s not an equal split,” he said as the numbers are based on history and some months receive more money than others.

In 2017, he said, the city went over its snowclearing budget by about $170,000 with almost all of that occurring in January.

The hope had been that the city would be able to recoup that in later months. “But that wasn’t the case,” said Burden of the winter that just wouldn’t end.

Rounding out the year in November and December, Burden said there was not as much money left as the city would have liked.

“We still had enough to get us through.”

This winter has seen a bout of continual snow once it started, a rain storm in January that was followed by more snow and then more rain.

When the snow doesn’t fall the city saves some money on plowing. Burden said the city is not paying out as much in fuel or as much in overtime for the equipment operators.

“But the flip side is we’re sanding and salting more often because of these freeze thaws, so our sanding and salting numbers are up for 2018.”

There were a few areas in the city that were hit hard in the January rain storm and there is concern now for the infrastructure in the ground once spring comes.

“We know that we have damage from these events that we haven’t identified yet,” said Burden.

He said the city will soon start a program to assess the infrastructure and make repairs.

One area he knows will take a lot of work is lower Elizabeth Street. The road will have to be repaved and curb and sidewalk replaced on one side.

“There’s going to be a lot of work in the spring to fix up all the damage that has been done,” said Burden.

With a fresh load on board this sand truck was ready to tackle the slippery streets of Corner Brook on Thursday afternoon.
With a fresh load on board this sand truck was ready to tackle the slippery streets of Corner Brook on Thursday afternoon.

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