The Thunder Bay roads department wants to add nearly $700,000 to its snow plow and winter roads budget to ensure they can keep streets clear this year.

The new recommendations given to city council follow two consecutive winters in which the snow cleaving budget went into the negative digits.

Road facts

  • Thunder Bay plows 1,901 kilometres of roads per year. 
  • 1,121 kilometres are 'local streets," the rest are arterial or collector streets
  • The city has 494 kilometres of sidewalks

Last year the deficit was nearly $1.5M.

The roads division wants money for computer software to optimize plowing routes in order to reduce costs.

Currently salt is the main method of treatment for paved roads, but the roads division is also recommending that only sand be used on local streets, with salt being restricted to hills and curves in an effort to save more money.

City staff also said council could look at other options to reduce the cost of snow removal, including plowing side streets less often and giving a priority designation to fewer streets. Council could also eliminate the plowing sidewalks on overtime, including weekends.

Another optional change includes raising the residential plowing limits. It means the city would plow after 15 cm of snow has fallen, while the current limit is 10 cm. Administration estimates it could mean plowing roads two fewer times each winter.