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Nelson taps out 2022 snow clearing budget

Cleaning up from a huge snowstorm in January plus regular snow clearing has drained Nelson’s snow removal budget.

Deputy Chief Financial Officer Chris Jury told council during a budget talk Friday that $740,000 has been spent so far this year – more than all of last year.

The big cost was contractors during the “epic” snowstorm of Jan. 3 when upwards of 80 centimeters (31 inches) of snow fell on the city. Borrowing 11 pieces of equipment from area contractors set the city back $160,000 to $170,000, which CFO Colin McClure called “pretty significant.”

Jury anticipates the city will spend about $980,000 this year. “We definitely need some more budget for 2022.”

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The last time Nelson had to hire additional outside contractors was for a storm in 2017 that was a “notorious heavy (snowfall) year,” Jury said.

Based on historical averages and inflation, the finance department is asking for $238,544 more for November and December. The money would likely come from the city’s general surplus fund.

Asked by Coun. Jesse Woodward if the city should be building into the budget a financial plan for a “big event” every four or five years, Jury said the budget averages out in the longer term.

Coun. Keith Page wondered if the city was on par with other communities for cost per kilometer of road. Staff say there are few comparable cities because they don’t have narrow, steep terrain like Nelson, but Rossland would be the closest match.

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