Vision Councillor Raymond Louie seems to be the go-to guy on all things snow these days, along with Murray Wightman from city hall staff, so I called him up early this morning (just before he was going out to shovel snow!) to get the update.
I am not going to announce breathlessly that I have BREAKING NEWS about snow removal (sorry, guys, but that was too funny), but here’s what Raymond had to say on various points about the issue, which I’ll quote at length since we’re all trapped in our houses anyway and currently have a great interest in snow.
1. The city ended up spending $937,000 from its 2008 budget for snow clearing in the last few weeks of December. (Raymond didn’t say it, but I will: Good thing council didn’t vote to put more money from the contingency fund into the homelessness plan, as David Cadman had suggested! Vision proposed $750,000 and said the remaining $1.3 or so should stay in contingency. About $750,000 had been budgeted for snow at that point.)
2. Vancouver is going to buy snow ploughs and sanding/salting attachments for five more trucks in time for the Olympics, so that the city will have 52 vehicles capable of ploughing instead of the current 47. (If I’ve understood correctly, the city doesn’t have ploughs per se, but attachments that go onto regular trucks.)
3. The city did try ploughing side streets in 93, when there was a lot of snow, and it was “horrendously expensive.” That’s in part because each plough would have to be accompanied by a truck to dump snow in, since it can’t be just shoved to the side, like on main roads and freeways. As well, people complained (shocking! hard to believe!) because of the noise the trucks made ploughing at night, which was done because streets were typically too busy during the day.
4. It would cost $300,000 just to put up the signs for the whole city to get people to remove their cars from first one side of the street and then the other, in order to plough all the side streets.
5. The ploughing along the main streets has actually had more trucks dedicated to it than might normally be the case, because other city operations were shut down for the holidays so there were more trucks available to plough both day and night.
6. Raymond has had four emails complaining about the lack of snow-ploughing.
7. The Canadian spelling of plough is plough; American is plow. (Actually, Raymond didn’t say that. I did.)