Winnipeg plows $7M past 2021 snow-clearing budget

More than 67 centimeters of snow fell on Winnipeg in the last two months of 2021, forcing the city to spend almost $7 million more than it had budgeted for snow removal in 2021.

City report says more than 67 cm of snow fell during last 2 months of 2021

Snow removal crews clear the roads in a January 2020 file photo. Heavy snowfall in the last months of 2021 forced the city's public works department to ask for an extra $6.9 million to balance its snow-clearing budget for the year. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg has approved spending almost $7 million more than it had originally budgeted for snow removal in 2021, due to the dump of snow that fell in the final two months of the year.

At a special finance committee meeting Friday morning, councillors approved an over-expenditure request of $6.9 million for the 2021 snow-clearing budget.

Winnipeg's chief financial officer told the committee that by the end of November, it looked like the public works department would be able to stick to its original budget.

"However, circumstances changed dramatically in December with significant snowfall and, consequently, additional snow-clearing costs," said Catherine Kloepfer.

By mid-January, Winnipeg already had more snow this season than in all of last winter, she said.

"These snow events have resulted in additional snow-clearing costs to the extent that the department is no longer able to balance its budget, despite having savings in other areas."

The initial snow-clearing budget for 2021 was $35 million, but more than 67 centimetres of snow fell in November and December 2021, the city said, forcing snow-clearing crews out in full force.

City staff told the finance committee that the extra costs actually totalled $11.2 million, but they found ways to save money elsewhere, through salaries and benefits and even savings related to insect control.

The city approved the over-expenditure — with some urgency. The city has to pay its contractors by the end of the month.

"We've got the payments ready," said Jason Ruby, manager of finance for public works.

"The amounts we owe the snow-clearing vendors are calculated and known, and we have to go through and process them."

January has already had significant snowfall, but 2022 snow clearing costs don't factor into the 2021 budget. 

Ruby said his team doesn't anticipate coming back to the finance committee to ask for more money for snow clearing for the 2021 year.


Sam Samson


Sam Samson is a senior reporter for CBC News, based in Regina. She's a multimedia journalist who has also worked for CBC in Winnipeg and Sudbury. You can get in touch on Twitter @CBCSamSamson or email