Winter's coming, and it won't be cheap

Although the city won't officially announce its 2018 budget until Dec. 11, in the past it's set aside $2.2 million for snow removal between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

After $2.2M was spent, Fredericton snow removal needed an $30,000 from city contingency fund last winter

Although the city won't officially announce its 2018 budget until Dec. 11, in the past it's set aside $2.2 million for snow removal between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Winter's coming and it's likely going to cost the City of Fredericton a large chunk of change.

Although the city won't officially announce its 2018 budget until Dec. 11, in the past it's set aside $2.2 million for snow removal between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations for the city, said he's predictions for everything from a "classic Canadian winter," with lots of snow and icy temperatures, to what the province saw last year, where snow-removal crews were targeting dangerous snowbanks across the city after especially heavy snowfalls.

"We don't put a lot of stock in that in our operations," he said of long-term forecasts. "We basically look at the most immediate forecast and make our decisions based on that. Essentially, we're making our decisions based on what's happening on the roads."

Besides, Walker said, the city is well-funded for its winter operations.

"There will never be a point where we can't get rid of it," he said. "We're going to continue to work regardless. It's something that has to be done."

No walk in the park last time

Last winter, Walker said roads and streets needed the entire snow-removal and ice-removal budget and the city went  slightly over, dipping into the contingency fund, also known as the "rainy day fund."

"It was a tougher winter than usual and we did have to use a little bit of that contingency," he said.

Walker said snow removal needed about $30,000 from the close to $140,000 in the contingency fund. The snow-removal budget runs until the end of the year, so he said the city might need to more funds, depending on the weather. 

"Our finance group keeps a small contingency budget … in case of a tough winter, where the snow removal budget might go over," he said.

Snow removal is also a public safety issue, Walker said.

As a result, winter parking rules will come into effect on Friday. The parking ban will be from midnight to 7 a.m. until March 31.