City of St. John's snowplow

The City of St. John's has laid off the majority of the workers who clear snow each winter. (CBC)

A St. John's city councillor says the controversial decision to lay off the majority of outside workers who handle snowclearing last month should have been put directly to elected politicians first. 

Coun. Art Puddister said city council should be involved in making the decision for the annual layoff.

At the end of the third week in March, the city laid off about 130 of the 180 workers who were handling snowclearing equipment.

Days later, the city was hit by two different storms, with several dozen centimetres piling up on roads and sidewalks.

"I propose that council be directly involved in the decision regarding the layoff," Puddister said at Monday evening's council meeting.

"We should be extending the employment of these seasonal workers, until approximately the first of April."

Manager issues layoff notices

Council determines the annual budget, which includes a timeline for snowclearing. Deputy city manager Paul Mackey, who is responsible for public works, is responsible for administering the budget, and when the approved timeline runs its course, he issues layoff notices.

"Mr. Mackey can come and say to us, you approved 18 weeks, if you feel you need another two weeks, whatever, here's [what] the cost [is] going to be," said Puddister.

It costs about $150,000 per week to extend full snowclearing services.

Puddister, who has already called for the city to shut down its communications office, says the money could come from there.