The City of North Bay is catching a break this winter when it comes to snow removal and water main repair costs, thanks to unseasonably warm weather.
“Basically we’ve got a lot less snow, probably half of what we usually have. The next couple of days we’re expected to get rain, so as far as the snow removal budget, we’re down quite a bit,” stated interim City Engineer, Alan Korell.
“And it hasn’t been as cold, so the frost isn’t nearly as deep in the ground, so we haven’t had any issues with frozen pipes or frozen water mains or culverts, things like that.”
Broken water mains are not uncommon during normal winter conditions.
“The older ones are say five feet in the ground, and the new ones are six feet or six and a half feet and the frost is down only about three feet. Usually, at this time it is down six,“ explained Korell.
What the city is experiencing due to exposed roadways is an earlier start to the pothole season.
“We have a few. We ask people to call them into public works dispatch so that we can keep control of them. We actually have pothole crews going out and addressing the ones we do have. Usually, at this time of year we don’t even know they exist,” stated Korell.
Having rain and continuing warm temperatures in the forecast over the next few days won’t help matters.
“If you get water in the system, it gets into the asphalt if it has cracks in it, and if it freezes, thaws and freezes, water gets in, the ice builds up, it expands and pops out pieces of asphalt. Then the traffic goes by and moves them. The water gets in and makes it worse. And then we have to go around and put some cold mix in.”
The weather is having a positive impact on the budget.
“The overall budget will be down. Basically, how the City works is, when we budget for snow removal and winter control, it is on a seven-year running average. So, it doesn’t really affect the budget other than we’re expecting to put money back into our surplus this year,” shared Korell.
“The last couple years we’ve actually taken money out of the surplus because it cost more money, so I think the big difference is as the overall winter control budget, it stays the same every year it is just sometimes we can put some into reserve and sometimes we have to take it out. I think this will be a good year where we’ll be able to put some in.“
The budget went into effect in November.
“So, we’re almost more than halfway through because it runs until April, so we had a very mild November and December. In January we had a couple of big snowfalls and in February so far, we haven’t had anything. So, instead of having three months of winter already, we’ve really only had one.”
Anyone who has lived in Northern Ontario knows there is still plenty of winter ahead.