New Brunswick

Cities hope mild weather will help offset last year's snow spending

New Brunswick's biggest cities have counted up the costs from last year's wild winter, and are hoping this year's mild one will help make up for the budget shortfall.

Saint John and Moncton spent in excess of 50% more on the snow budget in 2015

Snowplow operators in Saint John have been a lot less busy so far this year, compared to 2015. (CBC)

New Brunswick's biggest cities have counted up the costs from last year's wild winter, and are hoping this year's mild one will help make up for the budget shortfall.

Moncton and Saint John both went more than 50 per cent over budget for snow and ice clearing in 2015.

Even though there have been fewer storms and less snow this year, the cities aren't being too optimistic just yet, because budget spending can change as quickly as, well, the weather.

Moncton crews had some cleaning up to do in February, but nothing like the year before. (Radio-Canada)
"We still have the remaining winter of March and April, and November and December winter events that will need to be covered by the annual budget," said Isabelle LeBlanc, director of corporate communications for the City of Moncton.

"So we are always cautious about what's to come."

What they do know is how much those endless snowfalls and long days for plow drivers in 2015 meant to each city's finances.

In the calendar year of 2015, Saint John spent $9.1 million on clearing snow on streets and sidewalks, 59 percent over its budget.

Moncton paid out $8 million, 51 per cent over what it had planned.

Fredericton fared well, going just 4 percent over its $2.5 million budget.

Both Moncton and Fredericton have spent less on snow and ice clearing in the first two months of 2016 compared to 2015. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)

Spending down in 2016

This year, the city is expecting a surplus, at least for now, with spending down 17 per cent so far.

"Compared to last winter it certainly has been a light winter snow-wise," confirmed Mike Walker, manager of roads and streets for the City of Fredericton.

Moncton's spending in the first two months of this year was around half of what it was in the same period last year.

"It has been a better than average winter so far and we expect the numbers we present to council to reflect that," said Nancy Moar, communications manager for the City of Saint John.

That should make Saint John councillors feel a little relief, as they voted to increase the winter maintenance budget by 24 per cent over last year.

Still, they know that come November and December of 2016, they won't have El Nino on their side.

All three major New Brunswick cities went over their budget for snow and ice clearing in 2015. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)

About the Author

Redmond Shannon is an Irish CBC journalist who has been working in Fredericton. He is moving back to Ireland after 17 years.

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