The City of Kelowna plans to increase its annual snow removal budget in a bid to improve response times in residential areas.
City council approved a staff request Monday to hike the annual $1.6 million budget by $400,000, a move city public works manger Darryl Astofooroff said will enhance service levels, allow the city to hire more contractors to improve response times on residential streets after a snowfall and let the city add more “snow routes” in the Black Mountain, Kirschner Mountain and Academy Way neighbourhoods.
Snow routes are designated areas where the city can issue public advisories and temporarily ban street parking in order to let snowplows clear roads. They are located in particularly challenging neighbourhoods such as Dilworth Mountain, Magic Estates, Wilden and the Ponds neighbourhood.
Astofooroff said with council’s approval, staff will put together a budget request for the 2019 city budget.
Currently, the city clears snow on a priority basis, with major traffic routes, bus routes and roads with schools on them given preference over residenital streets.
This year, thanks to the cost of dealing with the heavier-than-usual snow fall earlier inthe year, the city has already used 85 per cent of its snow removal budget. And it still hast to deal with the winter months at the end of the year.
In order to meet the expected demand for service, the city has used money from its reserves to bolster the 2018 snow removal budget.
In addition to more money for removal costs, the city is also looking at better communication with the public about snow removal, using GPS technology to monitor progress of plows out on the streets to allow for a quicker transition between operators during shift changes, additional resources for specific tasks such as clearing cul-de-sacs in higher-elevation neighbourhoods and clearing multi-use corridors.
It is also looking at hiring more contractors and increasing the length of time they are hired for in winter, adding more staff for standby duty to cover weekends and increasing the number of snow routes in the city from four to seven.
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