Saskatoon city council learns new cost of blizzard cleanup

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Saskatoon city council learns new cost of blizzard cleanup
WATCH: Saskatoon city council has a better idea of how long they will be paying for November’s near record snowfall – Dec 22, 2020

Saskatoon’s city council learned cleaning up November’s blizzard will be cheaper than first thought, at $14.5 million.

A city report states nearly 40 cm of snow fell in a few days last month. The snowstorm paralyzed the city and forced the chief electoral officer to postpone the civic election.

More than 40 days later, efforts to remove that snow are still underway.

City transportation manager Terry Schmidt told Mayor Charlie Clark and councillors that workers have cleared the main routes of snow and began on the residential streets on Dec. 2.

He said 15 contractors and two city crews are still working and will likely finish in January, barring any new snow events.

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Graders, bobcats and dump trucks were scraping, piling and removing snow from 10th Street on Monday evening.

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The new figure is $50,000 less than first predicted but still $10 million more than what council had budgeted for snow removal this year.

Schmidt said the city could pay $7.5 million through 2020 funds and take $7 million from 2021’s budget.

He told council they could also use $3.45 million in a snow removal reserve fund, which would deplete the fund.

He said final cost of the snow clearing and removal will be reported in early 2021.

The council also voted to allocate $14,400 to clear secondary paths of snow.

While all councillors have spoke about the need to save money during the pandemic, they unanimously agreed to residents need more opportunities to spread out during a winter with COVID-19.

“If it does give our citizens an opportunity to get outside for those three months, whereas they might not have been able to, I believe that it will be money well spent,” Ward 3 councillor David Kirton said.

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Ward 5’s Randy Donauer told the council he will propose a motion in the future that would have city administrators construct a plan for another massive blizzard, which he compared to a flood or chemical leak.

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