Winter snow

An abnormally cold winter has led to heavy snow accumulation across Waterloo Region, putting strain on snow clearing budgets. (Mark Cadiz/CBC)

Heavy snow accumulation and a dearth of thaw days is causing municipalities in the region to rack up big snow clearing bills.

Numbers provided to CBC News by the three cities in Waterloo Region show they have all exceeded their winter maintenance budgets for the 2013 calendar year. And they have taken a significant chunk out of their snow removal budgets for this year.

Kitchener has exceeded its 2013 winter maintenance budget by around $100,000. 

Scott Berry, manager of maintenance operations for Kitchener, said each winter the city typically sees four or five "snow events" – defined as a day with more than eight centimetres of snowfall. This year there have been seven.

"On top of that we’ve had some very cold temperatures and the cold temperatures [pose] real challenges in terms of de-icing the roads," he said.

"And obviously, frontline staff that [does] the work in the outdoor elements - it makes a hard job that much more difficult."

So far, the city has already spent 43 per cent of its $5.3-million snow clearance budget for 2014.

70 per cent of the annual budget is typically consumed in the first three months of the year, said Jim Witmer, director of operations for the city.

“We’re in pretty good shape, surprisingly enough. But I don’t want to suggest that we’re out of the woods. We have another month or more of potential winter that could change at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Waterloo meanwhile, went 33 per cent over its $1.5-million budget for 2013.

“Generally speaking, the three of the [past] five years we’ve actually had surpluses, I would consider this an anomaly, and I’m hoping the next five years don’t look like this year,” said Eckhard Pastrik, director of environment and parks for the city.

At this point, the city has already spent 43 per cent of its $1.56-million budget.

“We’re predicting that by the end of 2014, depending on the weather of November, December of this year, we will likely be over budget,” said Pastrik.

Cambridge went 23 per cent over its 2013 budget, and has so far spent 80 per cent of its $2-million budget for 2014.

Information courtesy the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.