The number of sidewalks that need plowing in the wintertime in Saint John, N.B., is equivalent to the distance of five marathons.
There are also more than 1,000 kilometres of streets, which means clearing snow and spreading salt and sand is a complicated process.
This year, the city will lease portable weather stations to help with operations. The stations will be about $20,000 to lease and will be placed in the four quadrants of the city. One additional unit will measure pavement temperature.
“That pavement temperature is very important to identify whether to put salt out or not, how aggressive we have to plow, etc.,” said Tim O’Reilly, the director of public works.
“All that information is going to complement the forecast, give us much more accurate forecasts and of course complement the decision makers of our team to put out the right amount of resources but of course not too much.”
O’Reilly said those decisions are a balancing act.
A load of salt costs the city about $600, and it spends about $900,000 a year on salt for the winter season.
O’Reilly said the 2022-2023 winter season saw light snow, which made it easier for the city. But staff are prepared even for whatever’s to come.
“We’re just developing better tools and technology and a skill set of our employees to make these better decisions based on the resources available to us,” he said.
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