Winter is taking its toll on the City of Windsor's snowplows and their drivers.

Pete Matheson, the city's maintenance manager, said crews have been working 10 or 12 hours a day and up to 70 hours a week since January 1.

"It’s becoming very taxing on them. It’s a difficult job to be on that truck 10 or 12 hours a day," Matheson said. "When they’re home and the phone rings, they cringe. They don’t know if it’s the city calling them back in."

Environment Canada on Tuesday issued a snowfall warning for Windsor. By the time the snowstorm passes, up to 15 cm may have fallen.

Matheson said plows hit the streets Tuesday at 10 p.m., immediately after the same trucks were used by pot hole patch crews for 12 hours.

At least one truck has suffered some extensive damage in January. A blade snapped in half when it hit either "a very solid piece of ice or a manhole," according to Matheson.

It was welded back together and put back in service in time for Wednesday's shift.

"Our garage did an excellent job yesterday. They brought it in and welded it back together, and it was back on the road last night," Matheson said.

Matheson said residential streets would be plowed late Wednesday, after the storm passes.

Additional crews, hired on contract, would be called in.

"Residential streets aren't up to what I would like to be as a standard," Matheson said. "We've had some difficulties. We had that rainfall event on the weekend. A lot of the snow melted on the side streets, and then we had that quick freeze. We couldn't get in there."

Budget nearly blown

The city originally budgeted $3.57 million for snow removal this calendar year. In early January, an additional $1 million was added to the budget.

Matheson said nearly all the $3.57 million has been spent.

Three quarters of the money has been spent on salt.

The city budgets $700,000 for salt. Since December, the city has spent $1.4 million dollars on salt.

"I would suggest if it continues like this another three or four weeks we’ll have spent our budget allotment," he said.
Matheson hopes this storm is the last of the winter.

"We’re usually good for one blast in February and I hope this is it," he said. "I was watching the groundhog on the weekend and he let me down."