The recent stretch of unseasonably mild weather and low snow levels are costing the city millions of dollars and wearing on heavily-salted Winnipeg roadways.
Jim Berezowsky, head of the city’s streets maintenance department, is hoping for colder weather. He said the city has spent close to $3.5 million on salting and sanding streets thus far.
"This freeze-thaw cycle is very wearing on the roadways,” said Berezowsky. “A little bit cooler temperatures would be much appreciated."
Berezowsky said city pothole repair crews have been busier than usual in all areas of the city for this time of year.
"Now we're in the middle of December, prior to Christmas, and we're out there pothole patching,” he said. “That is something that in Winnipeg is not a constant routine service just prior to Christmas."
While Winnipeg’s comparatively snow-less roads have saved the city bundles on snow clearing, most of those savings have been cancelled out by the increase in costly salting operations.
“With the amount of warm weather that we've encountered, along with freezing rain, those savings have been turned over into the cost of applying sodium chloride,” said Berezowsky. “The last seven days have been a constant drizzle, which has really taxed the amount of chemical that we have to put on the roadway.”
He said the city has applied thousands of tons of salt since the first snowfall.
"If you look at last Friday ... we were applying a heavier concentration due to precipitation," said Berezowsky. "We applied between 500 and 700 tons in 24 hours."
Berezowsky said freezing drizzle has forced crews to spread salt almost continuously for the last week.
He said the city may accrue some savings in January if current conditions hold, because there would likely be almost no snow hauling costs for that month.