Snow budget blown

Digging out Red Deer in December exceeded the city’s 2009 snow clearing budget by almost $1 million.

Digging out Red Deer in December exceeded the city’s 2009 snow clearing budget by almost $1 million.

Roads superintendent Jim Chase said the city’s annual snow budget, which runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, was $2.13 million and spending is expected to reach $3 million.

“We are looking at other avenues within our division to fund that. It’s under review right now,” Chase said.

Up until the end of November, the city was on target to meet its budget, he said.

Then came the Dec. 4 blizzard, plus and several other snowy days.

“Unfortunately, it was just a necessity to manage that much snow. There was a lot of snow removal, additional ploughing, working around the clock.”

According to Environment Canada, Red Deer’s 30-year average for snow in December is 18.9 cm. In 2009, the city had more than 50 cm.

Between Dec. 4 to 6, a total of 17.8 cm fell. From Dec. 21 to 22 the city saw another 13.4 cm.

It was a busy December for city workers compared to the recent years, he said.

Snow clearing costs for the rest of the winter will be covered by the new 2010 snow budget. Whether or not there is enough budgeted for the new year won’t be known until December 2010, he said.

City snow clearing continued through the Christmas season and resumes today on priority streets downtown.

Workers will also spend three nights removing snow piled up on medians and boulevards around the city.

Curtis Huber, manager with Escape Yard Care, of Red Deer, said if staff weren’t busy clearing snow, they were repairing snowblowers in its small-engine shop.

He wouldn’t call last month “super busy” in the snow clearing business. Just nice.

“It’s considered high because we haven’t seen lots. Twelve years ago, we saw a lot more snow back then,” Huber said.

Shane Vollmin, owner Westerian Yard Care, of Red Deer, said his company has been twice as busy as usual, making about 16 visits throughout December to each of his regular customers.

“It has been non-stop,” Vollmin said.

But it did help make up for November when only one visit per customer was required, he said.

In an average November, Red Deer gets 16.9 cm of snow. In 2009 it had only 7.4 cm.

With spring still a few months off, Dan Armstrong, contract manager for Westerian, had some tips for anyone who picks up a shovel — dress warm, keep hydrated, pace yourself, and watch out for ice.

“You don’t see the ice underneath, but you have to expect it so you don’t slip.”