Communities across Greater Victoria are keeping an eye on their snow removal budgets as the region digs out of one snow storm, while preparing for another one.
Brian Robinson, manager of public works and parks for the Town of Sidney (pop: 11,672) said the municipality budgets $35,000 for snow removal. While this figure has remained static over the years, 2019 could be different.
“This year, we might spent double,” he said. “Let’s face it. We are only halfway through winter.”
Overall, Sidney budgets about $60,000 for special weather events.
By comparison, the region’s largest municipality, Saanich (pop: 114,145) has a budget of $182,000 for snow removal. As of Jan.1, Saanich has spent $25,000 on snow and ice removal.
Having dealt with Sunday’s snowstorm, both municipalities are now bracing for Monday’s.
“In the event of snow and ice conditions, Saanich ensures priority routes are treated first,” said Megan Catalano, a Saanich spokesperson.”These include emergency access routes major roads, priority bus routes, steep residential hills and priority sidewalks and bridges. We currently have eight vehicles to help clear snow and salt roads. Saanich has capacity to hold about 400 tonnes of road salt, and during harsh winter conditions it is possible to cycle through approximately 60 tonnes of salt in a 24-hour period.”
As for Sidney, crews will be able to draw on seven vehicles. Like during Sunday’s snowstorm, they will focus on major roads and the downtown core before fanning out to clear side-streets and cul-de-sacs. Robinson also anticipates that Monday’s snowstorm will require a full-out, round-the-clock commitment.
“Town of Sidney crews have been working continuously in alternating shifts since 4 p.m. [Sunday] to keep priority routes clear of snow and ice and to begin work on clearing secondary routes,” said Randy Humble, chief administrative officer. “We are anticipating another 24 hours of continuous work by Town crews to continue clearing roads.”
In this work, geography is their friend. Not only is Sidney relatively compact and small in area (5.1 square-kilometres), but also flat. Neighbouring communities such North Saanich and Central Saanich, meanwhile, have to deal with hills and other features, said Robinson.
Saanich, meanwhile, has to deal with a large road network that runs across a large (103.7 square-kilometres) and topographically varied area.
Catalano said crews are constantly monitoring the weather conditions and adjusting accordingly. “[However], similar to other municipalities, there are instances where the sheer volume of snow accumulation can be challenging,” she said. “Saanich has a large road network, and in heavy snow conditions crews often have to circle back on priority routes to ensure they are clear.”