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Saint John budget cuts won't hurt snow removal, says works commissioner

Budget cuts approved by Saint John council earlier this week are not expected to affect snow removal operations this winter, according to the city's works commissioner.

Works budget 'quite healthy' thanks largely to last winter being 'light,' says Jeff Hussey

City crews have 1,160 lane kilometres of road to maintain - about the distance between Saint John and Toronto. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

Budget cuts approved by Saint John council earlier this week are not expected to affect snow removal operations this winter, according to the city's works commissioner.

The works department's budget is "quite healthy right now," said Jeff Hussey.

That's largely due to last winter being "light," he said, citing few snowfall events and mild temperatures.

"We are projecting no service cuts this winter."

Having said that, it's difficult to predict, said Hussey.

Weather experts are forecasting a milder than normal winter, which usually brings more precipitation, he said.

But whether that means rain, or snow, or freezing rain remains uncertain.

Freezing rain events are harder on the equipment and "consumables," such as salt, than snow events, said Hussey.

The surface mason's budget usually ends up suffering from mild winters because freeze-thaw cycles create potholes and asphalt deterioration, he said.

Saint John has 1,160 lane kilometres of roads. "That's like [the distance] to Toronto," said Hussey.

The city also covers a wide geographic area — 316 square kilometres, he said.

"In context, we can fit  both Fredericton and Moncton in there and still have a land mass similar to the south-central peninsula left over."

The city has 81 pieces of equipment designed for snow clearing and removal and 115 operators.

With files from Information Morning Saint John