By Mark Squibb | Vol. 32 No. 52 (March 12, 2020)
It’s the one thing that’s been on everyone’s mind, and the star of water cooler small talk: ‘When will the snow end? And if it keeps up, where are going to put it all?’
Municipal councils have been at the forefront of the battle against nature.
During the March 3rd council meeting in Paradise, councillor Kimberly Street brought forward her concern that the Town did not have the fleet to manage the consistent onslaught.
“I’m getting a considerable amount of calls and messages regarding (the amount of snow), and residents have expressed a lot of concern, we’re all aware of that. But I’m concerned too because I’m thinking that if we continue to get more snow, clean up stops and we start taking care of snow fall. And the Town has been doing an exceptional job, I’m just wondering if we could look into the cost, maybe, of getting more vehicles, more snow plows, involved?” she asked during the round table at the end of the meeting.
Bobbett explained that the Town had $160,000 budgeted for rentals, and he was “pretty sure,” they had already used that up.
He turned to CAO Lisa Niblock for further clarifications, who explained that they had indeed surpassed the budgeted limit, adding that some snow had been trucked away already.
“We have started trucking snow away in areas where we have deemed it necessary to truck it away. But council’s direction to staff has been that it’s very, very expensive to truck snow, and we don’t do it unless we absolutely have to,” she explained.
She noted that the Town has been doing a good job given the amount of snow fall.
“It’s trying, the banks are high, but right now, everything is within policy and acceptable standards set by the Town,” she concluded, going on to note that the Town’s standard is that crews have six to eight hours to make one cut through the Town following a snow event.
“I think people are just getting to the point where we’ve had so much snow, and we had that big event that we did have, and everything is piled up, and people are just getting frustrated with it,” said Bobbett. “People are saying, ‘Where do I put it?” But we’re operating under the policy.”
He noted that it’s especially challenging to budget for something as unpredictable as snowfall, and that he had discussions with the mayors of Mount Pearl and St. Johns who said that they are facing similar challenges.
‘We’re getting there, we’re getting it done,” he concluded, saying that council would look at possibly enlarging that budget for next year.
Councillor Alan English said that, given the amount of snow on the ground and snow yet to come, there was a sense of urgency to act quickly.
“I certainly think that we need to deal with this now,” he said during the meeting. “We’re digging our self into a bit of a hole if we don’t get at it now and maybe bring in some more loaders. Obviously, it’s going to cost money, but it’s the most basic of services that we provide,” he said.
He noted that all council members had been receiving calls and emails regarding snow clearing, and that he believed staff was doing an exceptional job.
“But, it might be a time to step in and put more resources, if not necessarily purchasing more equipment, but to deal with the immediate problem.”
Public Works Committee were scheduled to meet before the next council meeting, which is scheduled for March.17
Since the March 3rd meeting, Paradise, along with the rest of the Avalon metro area, was hit with roughly 30 cm of snow over the March 6th weekend, with another snowstorm scheduled for later this week.