Convoys of dump trucks have carried away hundreds of loads of snow over the last week, but there is still more work to be done, says Halifax Regional Municipality spokesperson Tiffany Chase.
It’s been several days since the HRM got hit with two winter storms. Snowfalls on Feb. 13 and Feb. 16 led to an estimated accumulation of 80 cm of snow in the HRM and prompted closures and cancellations throughout the municipality.
A week after the first storm, cleanup is still underway. A winter parking ban was also in effect for nine days to allow for snow removal, but was lifted on Tuesday.
Chase says crews are still working around the clock to clear sidewalks and shave off snow banks to widen roads.
— hfxgov (@hfxgov) February 16, 2017
The HRM owns approximately 44 pieces of snow removal equipment, but also brings in contractors who have their own trucks and plows. To remove snow efficiently, snow blowers work in tandem with convoys of eight to 10 dump trucks. A snow blower can fill a truck in 45 seconds to a minute and a half, says Chase.
Snow clearing ops… each dump truck is filled with snow in about 120 seconds. pic.twitter.com/pZNupb6BSp
— Waye Mason (@WayeMason) February 19, 2017
The trucks unload their snow at one of five to six different dumping sites. These are locations owned by the municipality and are usually vacant lots. Their exact locations are not disclosed, says Chase, because there have been problems in the past with private contractors also using the sites to dump their snow.
For some pedestrians, snow-filled sidewalks and narrow streets have been a source of frustration.
Mikayla Kerr is a Dalhousie University student who lives near the school. For her, snowy sidewalks and narrow streets have been a safety concern, especially at night. As a result she has spent more money on cabs during the last week.
“I think it’s a little ridiculous, especially in the areas directly surrounding the schools,” she says. “I know that we got a lot of snow, but I just feel like sidewalks should really be a first priority, especially considering how many students are in the city and how many students don’t have cars.”
Chase says that as of Tuesday, all priority sidewalks have been cleared. While the overnight parking ban has been lifted, certain streets are closed to allow crews to work efficiently.
As of Jan. 31, the HRM has spent $11,452,893 on snow removal, which is a little over half the annual winter operations budget of $22.5 million.
Chase says the cost of this particular cleanup won’t be known for a few weeks, but the HRM is keeping track of the expenses given the unusual nature of the recent snowfalls.