Calgary has run out of room to store all that snow

The City of Calgary has literally run out of places to store snow taken off of streets and sidewalks. Its three snow dumps are full.

With snow dumps full, city turns to alternate sites — but that can cost cool cash

With snow dumps full, crews have dropped snow next to the city works yard in Manchester while they figure out where to put it next. (Scott Dippel)

After one of the snowiest winters Calgary in recent years, its finally happened.

The city has literally run out of places to put the snow.

The director of Calgary Roads, Troy McLeod, said there's pretty much no room left at the city's three snow dumps.

"We're essentially full when it comes to our snow dumps," said McLeod.

When that happens, the department looks for alternatives. And they may not be what you imagine.

A machine works at the Pumphouse snow storage site just west of downtown Calgary. The city's three snow storage sites are full. (Colin Hall/CBC)

He said it can involve dump trucks emptying loads of snow onto vacant culs-de-sac in unfinished areas in industrial parks. 

It also can mean dropping off the snow in ditches next to city works yards. 

But when that happens, it can create other issues.

The last time the alternatives were used, it generated a big clean-up bill.

"We had that happen back in 2014, where we had to use an alternate site, and it cost us just over a million dollars to clean that site up once the thaw occurred because a snow dump isn't clean like you'd see at an ice rink," said McLeod.

Snow dumps have containment systems, temporary ones don't

Whether it's salt, gravel or other debris, the material that gets caught up in the snow has to be picked up or treated.

He said any additional clean-up costs are covered by the city's snow and ice control budget. 

Switching to alternate sites is a temporary situation.

Other debris picked up with snow has to be picked up and treated. Snow dumps like this temporary one don't have containment systems. (Scott Dippel)

As the snow in the city's three snow dumps melt, he said heavy equipment will move that material around and make room for what's picked up after the city's next snowstorm.

McLeod said he's sometimes asked why the city can't take snow to city landfills.

"We aren't able to take our material there because it's too wet for that facility so we have to store snow at our own faciltiies."