A snowstorm in January cost Toronto more than $ 17 million and took a month to clean up, the city says.
On January 16 and 17, Toronto was covered in 55 inches of snow. It was more snowfall than the city experienced in January, February and March 2021 combined.
A report from city staff to be submitted to Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee on March 29 describes the effects of the extreme weather event.
“I look forward to discussing this report in the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and in the City Council,” Toronto Mayor John Tory, who requested that the report be prepared, said in a statement.
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Snow removal crews were met with unusual barriers in January. The rapid snowfall meant more than 500 buses from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) had to be rescued and hospital entrances prioritized, staff said.
Toronto’s staff report said these “urgent response activities are not typically carried out” during snow removal, but that they were “a necessary redistribution” to minimize delays for emergency services.
The clearing effort was focused on routes used by emergency services.
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The slow response resulted in an increase in the number of residents who called the city’s 311 helpline to request snow removal. Crew staffing rose as much as 58 percent to handle call volume.
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“Repeated and one-time inquiries as well as localized re-prioritisations further locked operations and extended expected response times,” the staff report states.
In a press release issued Tuesday, the city said it budgets about $ 89 million a year for snow removal. The 55 inches of snow that fell over two days in January spent 20 percent of that budget.
“The incidence of extreme weather is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the coming years,” a city spokesman told Global News. “The city is reviewing storm level services in other comparable cities to develop service levels for Toronto that address extreme winter weather events.”
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A significant weather event and major snowstorm were declared on January 17 and remained in place until February 16. Crews cleared 180,000 tons of snow, the city said.
The snow was removed in nearly 60,000 trucks and 3,471 kilometers of road were cleared.
“Snow removal operations were performed 24 hours a day until February 6, and limited snow removal continued until February 16,” the staff report states.
The city said the blizzard was among the ten largest amounts of snow accumulation ever recorded in Toronto.
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