Grading graders: How does Edmonton snow clearing compare to other Canadian cities?

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How do Edmonton’s snow-clearing efforts compare to other cities?
WATCH ABOVE: Just like many urban centres in Canada, Edmonton snow-clearing crews are digging out from another big storm. Fletcher Kent looks at how Edmonton snow-removal efforts compare to those in other cities – Mar 5, 2018

The last several days have tested snow-clearing efforts in cities across Canada. Being a winter nation means spending a lot of money on removing what winter brings.

Every city tackles the snow-removal challenge differently so Global News decided to look at snow-clearing value by comparing what a handful of cities do and how much they spend.

READ MORE: Seasonal parking ban in effect for Edmonton after heavy snowfall 

After 10-20 centimetres fell in Edmonton on the weekend, plows have cleared the main roads and are working on the bus routes. A parking ban is in effect. The person in charge of these efforts is happy.

“I think they’ve been going really well,” Janet Tecklenborg said.

Edmontonians pay more for snow clearing than people in many other cities.

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Edmonton spends $63.7 million every year to clear snow from its nearly 12,000 kilometres of roadways. That works out to $5,308 per kilometre per year.

In contrast, Calgary spends less than half that much. Calgary’s $38.3-million budget looks after 16,700 kilometres of roads. That’s $2,293 per kilometre.

Regina is the most expensive of the cities we looked at. It costs Reginans $8,651 per kilometre to keep their roads maintained.

Winnipeg is a little less than Edmonton at $4,250 per kilometre but it clears sidewalks.

Ottawa spends about the same amount as Edmonton at $5,336 per kilometre. It clears all roads and sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall.

READ MORE: Edmonton blasted with snowfall, causing dangerous road conditions

Edmonton tackles main roads within 48 hours of a snowfall, before moving to bus and collector routes. Later, residential roads are bladed but clearing sidewalks in front of private property is the responsibility of homeowners.

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Tecklenborg says comparing cities can be challenging.

“It’s hard to compare apples to apples,” she said.

“There’s a lot of different factors coming into play when you’re looking at different budgets. One is different levels of service. Two is different weather conditions.”

For example, Calgary has a seven-day snow-clearing plan. It strives to “work to make residential roads passable” within four to seven days. Much of the snow is not removed, though. Chinooks deal with some of what’s left on the ground.

READ MORE: What’s Calgary doing with all the abandoned vehicles amid record snowfall? 

Also, policy decisions can affect per-kilometre costs.

Edmonton hires private contractors to do some of its snow-clearing work. Equipment costs may appear in different parts of different city budgets depending on whether maintenance crews are hired by the city or contracted out.

Tecklenborg maintains that the city is always looking for ways to improve and streamline how it clears snow. They look at what other cities do.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re running the anti-icing pilot this year and looking at different technologies, to be as efficient as possible,” Tecklenborg said.

As city equipment is out moving snow, Richard Bezaire is outside, too.

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READ MORE: Edmonton to unveil massive policy change to snow clearing 

Since the snow started falling on Saturday, he has been in and out clearing the sidewalks on his corner lot. On Monday afternoon, he finally finished.

The road in front of his home is clear and he’s happy the city worked faster than he did.

“I think they’re probably working hard but I would say they’re doing a reasonably good job,” Bezaire said.

When he heard about sidewalk clearing in Winnipeg and Ottawa, he was a little envious of that. Given how much he shoveled in the last few days, he says he’d spend a lot more for that service.

“Oh yeah. Definitely,” he says as he points to a lengthy sidewalk along one side of his home. “Especially the one down there. That’s a long one and there’s a lot of snow.”

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