Schools were closed Tuesday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. (THE NEWS/files)

Cities plowing through snow removal budgets

But Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows don’t have the costs in yet

While snow piled up, the snow removal budget drew down, as winter arrived late this year in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Maple Ridge’s full complement of snow removal and road salting crews were out Monday and Tuesday to clear away snow up to 15 centimetres of snow that fell over the two days.

Maple Ridge’s chief financial officer Trevor Thompson didn’t have the costs of costs of snow removal for this week’s storm but said there’s lots in the kitty for most snowfall events.

Thompson said the city annually budgets $300,000 for snow removal. And if that isn’t enough, there’s a snow-removal reserve fund that contains $850,000 for extra snowy years.

In addition to that, any money that’s left over each year from the snow removal budget goes into the reserve fund.

In Pitt Meadows, the city has budgeted $150,000 this year to clear away the white stuff from roads and in parks. That’s an increase from the $108,000 allotted for snow removal in 2018.

TransLink also chips in by helping pay for maintenance, including snow removal, of streets in Maple Ridge that are part of the region’s major road network.

But both cities say it’s too soon to say how much this week’s snow event cost in wages or material. “We’re definitely spending money,” said Samantha Maki, Pitt Meadows director of engineering, operations and parks.

She said that city crews have been on the roads for several weeks prior applying brine to reduce icing. “The crews are definitely full speed.”

Maki added that so far, people seem generally pleased with the city’s response. “There’s been quite a bit of feedback on the social media channels,” she said.

Pitt Meadows plows snow or treats ice with salt or sand on main routes only, around the clock, until they are clear. Once that’s done, residential and side streets are addressed, during normal work hours.

Even though the latter part of the week calls for warmer temperatures, crews still will be out to ensure ice is removed and roads remain clear. According to Environment Canada, nine centimetres of snow are currently on the ground at Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, as of midday Tuesday.

Both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows require sidewalks to be shoveled by 10 a.m. the day after a snowfall and both cities encourage those who can’t shovel their own walk to get involved in the Snow Angel program where neighbours help neighbours with snow shovelling duties.

Thompson added that he always notices how people help each other out shovelling driveways and sidewalks during a snowfall.

Maple Ridge spokesperson Fred Armstrong said that as the snowfall eases, crews will start clearing the secondary roads. “They’ve been responding to calls for service in impacted areas throughout the snow events.”

As the weather warms up, crews will ensure that storm drains remain clear. Residents can also keep those storm drains clear of snow and ice if they can do so safely.

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