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article imageWinnipeg sees snow clearing surplus blown away by storm

By Ken Hanly     Dec 29, 2016 in Environment
Winnipeg - Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba, was hoping for a year-end surplus in its snow-clearing budget. But it was not to be. Over the Xmas holiday Winnipeg and other parts of Manitoba experienced the second December storm.
A month ago, Winnipeg still had about $10 million of its $33.5 million 2016 snow-clearing budget unspent. It had hoped to end the year with most of that surplus left. On December 13 the city called for transferring $9.5 million from the 2016 budget to help meet the $1.08 billion in operating expenses next year.
Each snow-clearing effort costs about six to seven million. The present clearing plus more from earlier in December will not only result in the surplus being used up but could possibly result in funds from elsewhere being used as well. The city council finance chair Scott Gilligan said: "This will have a detrimental effect on the projected surplus for 2016. We don't know the final numbers, of course, because we're still tallying up the expenses from the snowfall in early December and now we've been hit with the second one."
Gilligan said that once accounting for the year 2016 is complete, the financial status report is to be made in February of 2017. He said that the city would need to determine what to do about a smaller transfer or even no transfer at all. He said that usually the city is safe in planning for the transfer of funds. He said this was an exceptional year: "You get a snowfall like this maybe once a year, sometimes every couple of years. We've had two snowfalls of this amount of around 30 centimetres in December alone. That's unusual, so it's hard to budget for something like that". The snow-clearing operation was expected to last several more days with back-lane clearing beginning for areas scheduled for garbage pickups. Warnings will be issued before clearing residential streets.
The city had about 450 pieces of heavy equipment ready to snow-clearing. Ken Allen, public works spokesperson predicted before the storm that it could cost up to six million dollars for clearing. Allen said that there were no plans for holding back on snow-clearing in spite of the expense. He said that snow-clearing operations depend upon weather and street conditions only.
One family travelling to Winnipeg from Los Angeles decided to keep going until they reached Winnipeg in spite of the storm. Oleg and Elena Tcherkas crossed into Manitoba from the U.S. at about 3 a.m. They failed to reach the city as they ran into a snowdrift and got stuck, in the early hours of Boxing Day. Two police cruisers and a tow truck were sent to help them but had problems making it through the snow. But at about 4 a.m.,Tim Klassen, a Winnipeg firefighter who lives out of town near Altona, tapped on the window of their car. He had a tow rope and was able to pull them out. He then escorted them into the city to see they arrived safely. The family arranged a meeting with Klassen on Wednesday to give him a proper thank you in the form of an Xmas card and a holiday ham.
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