While record amounts of snow have been piling up in Calgary so far this month, the number of abandoned cars that are snowed in on city streets is also quickly accumulating.
Last February, the city fielded 363 calls to 311 from residents complaining about abandoned vehicles.
This year, that number is nearly double, with 586 complaints being made. The number of tickets has also almost doubled, with 45 being handed out in February 2017, compared to 93 so far this year.
The city’s third snow route parking ban of the winter was lifted at 2 p.m. on Tuesday after being brought into effect Sunday morning. Between 10 a.m. Sunday and noon on Monday, officials handed out 1,056 tickets.
According to Kevin Bulman from the Calgary Parking Authority, officials have towed seven vehicles during this most recent parking ban.
“We are towing the ones that are posing a safety concern,” Bulmer said. “Whether it be in the middle of the lane of traffic.”
“What we’ve also found is we’ve got vehicles that are on snow routes that still have tickets from the previous snow events, so in this case, it’s obvious there was no compliance and we have been seizing these vehicles.”
WATCH: A snow route parking ban went into effect in Calgary on Sunday morning. Tow truck operators are busy removing cars stuck in the snow around the city, but many residents say more vehicles should be ticketed and towed. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
City manager of roads maintenance, Bill Biensch, said crews are 70 to 80 per cent of the way through clearing snow from the Priority 2 routes.
Biensch added any time vehicles are impeding snow-clearing efforts, plow operators feather the snow out across the parking area as opposed to pushing it all to the side, allowing vehicles to get up on top of the snow to park and keeping traffic flowing.
Autobody shops warn that abandoned vehicles that eventually get buried in snow could see significant damage, including rust, brake problems and even frozen or cracked batteries.
The snow route parking bans are enforced to allow snow clearing on Priority 2 routes in the city. It’s expected the parking ban could be lifted on Tuesday afternoon.
What’s the City of Calgary’s snow-clearing budget?
The city’s annual snow-clearing budget for a calendar year, January to December, is about $39 million.
In a typical year, most of that budget is spent from December to the end of March.
This year, the city has gone through half that — spending $18 million to clear the city streets. Because the budget covers a calendar year, there must be enough money to cover any snow-clearing required next fall.
There is a reserve fund the city can dip into if required.
“We have a $15-million reserve fund that is currently sitting at $12.5 million,” said Tara Norton-Merrin, communications supervisor with the city. “We have not used any of that in 2018, as we have lots of budget left.”
She adds that in 2017, the city used $2.5 million of the reserve fund, so that’s why the balance is $12.5 million.
Larger snow dumps and fewer chinooks this winter means the city has also had to hire contractors to help with the cleanup, which costs more money.
— With files from Sarah Offin and Carolyn Kury de Castillo