Intense January snowstorm cost Toronto more than $17M to clear

Click to play video: 'Snowstorm cleanup in Toronto expected to last days' Snowstorm cleanup in Toronto expected to last days
WATCH ABOVE: A massive cleanup is underway following one of the biggest snowstorms Toronto has experienced in recent history. Caryn Lieberman reports. – Jan 18, 2022

A January snow storm cost Toronto more than $17 million and took a month to clear, the city says.

On Jan. 16 and 17, Toronto was blanketed with 55 centimeters of snow. It was more snowfall than the city experienced in January, February and March 2021 combined.

A city staff report that will go before Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee on March 29, laid out the impacts of the extreme weather event.

“I look forward to discussion of this report at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and at City Council,” Toronto Mayor John Tory, who requested the report be drawn up, said in a statement.

Read more: Toronto may begin to close temporary shelters that make up 40% of its capacity

Snow clearing crews were met with unusual barriers in January. The rapid snowfall meant more than 500 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) buses had to be rescued and hospital entrances were prioritized, staff said.

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The Toronto staff report said these “urgent response activities are not typically undertaken” during snow removal but that they were “a necessary redeployment” to minimize delays for emergency services.

Clearing efforts were focused on routes used by emergency services.

Read more: Toronto declares major snowstorm condition, to begin snow removal operations: Tory

The slow response resulted in an increase in residents calling the city’s 311 helpline to request snow clearing. Staffing for the helpline increased as much as 58 per cent to handle the call volume.

“Repeated and one-off requests, as well as localized reprioritizations, further bogged down operations and stretched out anticipated response times,” the staff report said.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the city said it budgets around $89 million per year for snow removal. The 55 centimeters of snow that fell over two days in January used up 20 per cent of that budget.

“The incidences of extreme weather are expected to increase in frequency and severity in the years to come,” a spokesperson for the city told Global News. “The City is reviewing the storm level services of other comparable cities to develop service levels for Toronto that address extreme winter weather events.”

Read more: Ontario spring forecast: Above normal rainfall with big swings in temperature likely

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A significant weather event and major snow storm condition was declared on Jan. 17 and remained in place until Feb. 16. Crews cleared 180,000 tonnes of snow, the city said.

The snow was removed in almost 60,000 truckloads and 3,471 kilometres of road were cleared.

“Snow removal operations were undertaken for 24 hours a day until February 6, and limited snow removal continued until February 16,” the staff report said.

The city said the snowstorm was among the top-ten amounts of snow accumulation ever recorded in Toronto.

Click to play video: 'Toronto to invoke ‘major snowstorm condition’ for snow removal' Toronto to invoke ‘major snowstorm condition’ for snow removal
Toronto to invoke ‘major snowstorm condition’ for snow removal – Jan 17, 2022

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