The City of St. John’s is studying alternatives to dumping snow in the harbour.
The city’s public works committee Thursday approved a proposal from Paul Mackey, deputy city manager of public works, to issue a request for proposals to study disposal alternatives, as well as the potential of melting technologies.
“We are running into problems with dump sites,” said Mackey. “There will come a day when we’re going to have to have alternate sites. We recognize that. Plus, it may be more cost-efficient to find alternate sites for certain areas of the city, where the city has grown so much.”
Mackey presented a discussion paper from Don Brennan, the city’s director of roads and traffic, that outlined the problems with dumping snow in the harbour:
‰ Increased marine traffic — A growing level of vessel activity in the harbour is making it increasingly difficult for the city staff to find unoccupied areas of the wharf for dumping. Brennan’s report notes the St. John’s Port Authority prioritizes providing docking space over snow-dumping access.
‰ Enhanced security measures — Stricter security measures have also complicated access, says Brennan’s report. Transport Canada requires all drivers sign in and out for each load of snow dumped from a secured area, slowing down disposal and driving up the cost to remove a given amount of snow.
‰ Potential environmental restrictions — Regulations may eventually prohibit all future dumping in the harbour because of “the potential presence of deleterious substances in the snow loads,” notes Brennan’s report, which adds St. John’s is the only city in Canada that still dumps snow into its harbour.
“What we want to do is get a consultant to do a proper look at this and the proper costing of different options and come up with some guidelines or some direction for us, and the bigger picture,” said Mackey.
City manager Bob Smart said it might be time to review broader aspects of snowclearing operations.
“Do we have the right configuration of equipment, of front-end loaders versus snowblowers? Do we have the right route configuration?” he said. “Should we be thinking about having satellite depots in the city, at least during the winter snowclearing season, the same as the province has winter depots, and that type of thing.”
But Smart said the timing right now isn’t good — in the spring would be better.
“We are not doing this because we don’t think we’re doing a good job on the snowclearing,” he said.
“We’d be doing it because the city is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and we’re sort of saying, ‘How many more trucks and pieces of heavy equipment are we going to need? And do we need these satellite stations?’ It’s a more forward-looking thing as opposed to a response to any criticism we’re getting now.”
The public works committee approved the disposal study, which Brennan estimated would cost about $30,000, which will come from the city’s snow-clearing budget for 2014.