British Columbia

Councillor urges rethink on 'unsustainable' snow removal methods in Prince George

Coun. Brian Skakun says that the city is spending too much on snow removal and that it could be done more efficiently.

Brian Skakun says hauling snow costs roughly 10% of the city's budget

Coun. Brian Skakun says the city used to leave snow piles on intersections and let them melt in the spring, but now more snow is being hauled to dumps — which is costly. ( Andrew Kurjata)

A Prince George councillor says the city must rethink the way it removes snow from its streets, calling the current policy "unsustainable" due to the millions it spends every year on moving snow to local dumps.

Coun. Brian Skakun says the city now spends $9.5 million on snow removal, which works out to nearly ten per cent of the budget. The city has hauled more than 15,000 truckloads from city streets to dumps this winter.

"We have to pick up the snow, we have to hire contractors, we have to run a snow dump," said Skakun, adding that all of these steps cost money.

He says the city can trim costs by minimizing the amount of snow that needs to be picked up and then transported.

"We used to put snow on the boulevards and it just thawed out in the spring," he said.

Skakun references the Mercury Report, a third-party review of the city's snow-clearing processes. Twenty-six recommendations came from that report, one of them being that trucks should plow onto the sides of boulevards as one way to cut costs.

When it comes to concerns over sight lines around snow banks at the side of the road, Skakun says that most people are used to driving in snowy conditions and that the city always cuts banks down to improve visibility.

"What people have to do, and what we're doing, is work around those, be a little more cautious when you pull out."

Balancing act

Garth Frizzell, who also sits on council, says it all comes down to a balancing act — trying to keep the taxes low and also deliver an essential service.

"It's always looking at the trade-offs and seeing what the best option is," said Frizzell, who added that he's willing to hear Skakun's proposal at council.

Skakun says he is confident that the city will find solutions that work for everyone.

"It is a touchy subject and people realize they're paying a lot of money … but they also expect a good service."

Click below to hear the full interview with Brian Skakun:

With files from Daybreak North and Betsy Trumpener

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