When Snow Doesn’t Fall, the Crews Find Other Things to Do

City hasn't yet tallied how much it will save because of our dry winter... so far
Snow Plow

When life doesn’t give you snow, fill potholes. Or fix playgrounds.

Or clean out encampments.

Mother Nature has decided to hold off on the snow so far this winter, giving us nothing to clear off our roads. So, the City has been redeploying its Snow and Ice Control City crews to do other things.

The lack of snow means that the cash-strapped City has also been saving some money, but it’s too early to say exactly how much will have been saved till spring arrives

According to City of Edmonton data, we received a little more than 62 cm of snow in all of 2023. That goes back to the previous winter. How low is that number? Like, really low.

In 2022, we got 236 cm of snow, and that wouldn’t be considered a heavy snowfall year.

In 2013, we got nearly 500 cm of snow.

Val Dacyk is the City of Edmonton’s general supervisor of Infrastructure Field Operations. She says that a mix of contracted crews and staff are responsible to clear the streets of snow.

When it doesn’t snow, the contracted workers simply aren’t called in, and “this does mean some savings for these budgets. Seasonal savings are being tallied and exact numbers will be available at a later date.”

Where does the money go?

“Savings from snow and ice are distributed back to City operations, and any ultimate savings are added to the Financial Stabilization Reserve that covers overages caused by extreme weather conditions.”

So, basically, it’s put into a pot and saved for a time when we have to deal with major weather issues.

As for the City staff, there’s no point in having them sit around, so the city has redeployed them to do other things.

From Dacyk: “With the extended warmer temperatures and dry conditions, City crews have been temporarily reassigned and are completing other priority work. Trained crews must be available to respond to weather events quickly and efficiently in order to keep streets and active pathways safe for all Edmontonians, so the reassignment of staff allows for operational surge, for when the snow comes.”

Here are where they’ve been reassigned:

  • Asphalt road maintenance
  • Sidewalk trip-hazard repairs
  • Paving stone replacement
  • Parking lot and shared-use path repairs
  • Oil and gravel road and gravel alley repairs
  • Playspace maintenance
  • Auxiliary maintenance, such as minor fence repairs and graffiti removal, plus tree and grate Maintenance
  • Bridges maintenance
  • Slab levelling remediation — black dirt and seed
  • Litter and illegal dumping clean-up
  • Horticulture
  • Vacant encampment clean-up (this was placed at the bottom of the list that was sent to us)

Snow crews have repaired almost 110,000 potholes since the third week of October, added 20,000 square metres of mulch to shrub beds and have picked up more than 3,000 bags of garbage.

Edmonton’s snow removal budget for the 2023-24 winter season is $63.3 million. The City spent $72 million the previous winter.