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Vancouver spends $2 M a year on fighting snow; Toronto, $87 million

April 5th, 2013 · 33 Comments

That’s just one of the many fascinating facts contained in a 28-page, yes, you read that right, 28-page report about snow clearing, generated by I believe Coun. George Affleck’s concerns that bike routes had been ploughed before major arterials in Vancouver during our annual snowmaggedon.

You can read the whole report right here  (because really, what else do you have to do on a Friday night?), which even includes very cool pictures of the trucks and everything. Plus maps of the brining routes and an exciting hour-by-hour description the “snow and ice event of December 19th.”  Apparently the potential disaster (2-6 centimetres of snow predicted) was anticipated as early as Dec. 17. But let’s get a glimpse of the report, which conveys much better than I can the drama that unrolled.

An updated forecast received at midday on December 18th, 2012, calledfor the potential of snow accumulations from 2 to 6cm between 4am and noon on December 19th, 2012. Accordingly, a Level 3 response was issued, and a total of 10trucks continued salting all major routes,secondary routes, priority bicycle routesalong vehicle travel lanes, and 2 Kubota’s were assigned to salt priority separated bikeways and the Seawall. At a shift change at 7pm, a total of 14 trucks were saltingall major routes, completing one full cycle every 1.5 hours, and ploughing as required.

Wednesday December 19th, 2012
While crews continued salting activities from
the previous day, staff received a special
notification at 8am that indicated a rain
-snow mix at YVR turned to heavy snow.
Warmer air that was forecast to move into Vancouver was later than anticipated by
forecasters and, as a result, a warming-cooling cycle occurred with resulting snow,
freezing rain, back to snow, and so on. The City received an additional 2 cm of a
snow-ice mix that was not expected. The City’s response level was upgrade to a Level
4 following the advisory and 24 trucks were deployed to plough and salt all major and
secondary routes, with 4 additional trucks
assigned to priority bike routes along
vehicle travel lanes. One Kubota was deployed to plough and salt downtown priority 1
separated bicycle routes, and another was deployed to clear and salt the Seawall.
Although it would normally take 1.5 hours
to complete all major routes, staff report
that during the event it was taking crews 3 hours to complete the major routes
because of icy roads and traffic. Secondary routes and priority bicycle routes were
completed within the normal timeframes. In addition, approximately 50 employees
were clearing and salting priority bus stops and high pedestrian areas. During the late
afternoon and evening, temperatures climbed to 5°C, which accelerated the snow
melt process. The snow and ice response
was subsequently downgraded to a Level 3
during the 7pm shift change, at which time 20 trucks were salting the major and secondary routes.

BTW, the first priority for the city’s trucks is indeed the 355 kilometres of key arterials in the city. And we could spend more, like Toronto does, if we want to. Out of Toronto’s $87-million snow-removal budget, $34 million is to have non-city ploughs on standby just in case it snows. Montreal contractors must be weeping as they read that.

Okay, that was a little too much excitement for me. Just wondering, though, how much it cost to produce that 28-page report with the maps, graphics, pictures and everything.

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