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Calgary budget: Tracking success for $10.5M extra in snow and ice control cash

Winter’s coming and with that the predictable accumulation of snow and ice control (SNIC) complaints across Calgary.

Last week, Calgary city councillors approved a 2022 budget adjustment. In the additional council-driven budget requests was $10.5 million to improve snow clearing responsiveness.

It was broken into two asks: $5.5 million to improve response times for Calgary’s 7-day snow plan. The other $5 million was to continue with elevated service for pedestrian snow and ice control.

“This is an increase in our service level, both from a response on our road system, but also on our pedestrian pathway system,” said city roads director, Troy McLeod.

Ward 12 Coun. Evan Spencer had concerns about the bump in SNIC cash.

“One of the things I’m concerned about is we put in this extra money, and then my residents see little to no improvement in response time,” he said.

He asked if the additional funding would allow them to be nimbler in their response to problem areas.

“This additional funding would look at accelerating that service level and be able to get to those residential areas sooner in the snow and ice control plan,” said McLeod. A contracted service is often deployed to trouble spots in the city, McLeod said.

There are 500 priority locations in the city they can address with the additional funding. Those were covered by one-time funds in prior budgets. This money would ensure that work continues moving forward, McLeod said.

Tracking the results – How will Calgarians know SNIC is better?

According to Calgary’s 2021 Fall Quality of Life and Citizen Satisfaction survey, snow removal satisfaction dropped nine per cent. It was the biggest statistical drop among the issues on the survey, compared with Fall 2020.  Only one in five Calgarians were “very satisfied” with city snow removal.

Further, 60 per cent of Calgarians said to invest more in snow removal – up 10 per cent from the Fall 2020 satisfaction numbers.

Snow removal was the eighth-ranked out of 35 issues in terms of being “very important” to Calgarians.

Will the additional $10.5 million make a difference? Here are a few specifics on what the city will do with the additional funding:

  • Funding supports a six-day snow plan (instead of seven-day).
  • Response to clearing Priority 1 and 2 routes will be reduced from 24 hours to 18 hours.
  • Supports the addition of more resources and equipment during significant snow events.
  • Makes permanent the clearing of 550 kilometres of pathway and 500 kilometres of sidewalks within 24 hours.
  • Additional clearing for transit stops, windrows at crosswalks, priority pedestrian crossings.

And how will the city and Calgarians know the cash had an impact?

According to admin documents, their primary measurement is in monitoring collision trends and the average cycle time for SNIC response.

They will also measure on-time performance for clearing of Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes. Finally, they’ll be looking at improvements in the SNIC service requests per 100,000 population.