City staff are asking for an increased annual budget as well as new equipment to deal with snow around Kamloops.
In total, city administration has told councillors they will be asking for an annual increase of $400,000 to cover three new full-time employees and other costs, and $564,000 for new equipment (including two new plow trucks).
In a council workshop on Tuesday (June 12), city staff explained that the budget has remained essentially stagnant since the early 2000s while equipment has aged and the city has added 87 kilometres of new roads and 40 km of sidewalks; the city currently has 1,180 km of paved laneways, 64 km of gravel laneways and 75 km of sidewalks.
The city's budget of $1.6 million is notably lower than many other similarly sized cities, streets services manager Glenn Farrow told councillors, though comparing cities, in this case, is akin to comparing apples to pineapples with a range of weather patterns, topographies and city planning. He says Prince George, which Kamloops often gets compared to, has a budget of at least $7 million. Kelowna recently raised its budget to $2 million.
One of the issues the city faces is an uneven set of expectations, according to Farrow, with Albertans, Vancouverites and people from small Interior towns all expecting different results from the city's snow team. Those expectations range from how fast snow should be plowed, whether windrows should be removed and how to deal with certain areas of the city.
"The comments are all over the board," he told councillors. "We often say no for requests because they don't align with our service levels."
The service levels are the policy which determines how the city's snow crew deals with prioritizing snow plowing.
While staff has made council aware of the new requests for funding, they won't be dealt with immediately and will be part of regular budget meetings in the fall and winter of 2018. Farrow noted that while the new employees would deal with snow during the winter, they would also make up a new team to fix potholes during the warmer months.
However, these changes wouldn't come into effect until 2019, and the 2018 snow budget is already tight. Farrow said after this year's winter, 90 per cent of the money for dealing with snow has been used, with just 10 per cent for the rest of the year, and while June typically isn't a snowy month, November and December might be a different story.