Ottawa

Snow-clearing threshold to stay at 7 centimetres, city committee decides

Ottawa's transportation committee has turned down a proposed cost-saving measure that would have seen the city's snow-clearing threshold increased from seven to 10 centimetres.

KPMG recommended upping threshold to 10 centimetres on residential streets as cost-saving measure

Coun. Keith Egli, chair of Ottawa's transportation committee, introduced a motion Wednesday to leave the city's snow-clearing threshold at seven centimetres. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Ottawa's transportation committee has turned down a proposed cost-saving measure that would have seen the city's snow-clearing threshold increased from seven to 10 centimetres, but approved other measures aimed at making winter road operations more efficient.

It was estimated upping the minimum snowfall would have trimmed $500,000 from the city's winter operations budget.

But Coun. Keith Egli, who chairs the committee, said he heard loud and clear from residents that the three centimetre difference would be a burden, especially for folks with mobility issues.

"Staff had a job to do and that was to provide options," Egli told the committee, emphasizing that it was ultimately up to councillors to choose from among those options.

Other cost-saving measures available, consultant says

A KMPG report suggested that increasing the snow removal threshold on residential streets to 10 centimetres would save the city a total $1 million annually, and recommended the city re-invest half of that amount to clear streets more quickly.

KPMG also suggested the city could save another $1.2 million annually by adjusting salting and plowing routes, or "beat optimization," and a further $1.5 million by relying more heavily on outside contractors.

Deans expressed concern over that so-called "tiered approach," which would see the current 70/30 ratio of internal and contract service providers change to 65/35, and asked whether it could lead to layoffs of city employees.

Coun. Catherine McKenney had introduced a motion to defer the matter until the city had a chance to consult with the municipal employees' union, CUPE 503. But that motion was withdrawn after the city manager assured the committee he'd have time to speak with the union before the report goes to city council for a final vote.

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