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Lack of snow helps Ottawa save millions on snow-clearing in first 3 months of the year

Light snow is seen falling in Ottawa's ByWard Market in this undated photo. (CTV News Ottawa) Light snow is seen falling in Ottawa's ByWard Market in this undated photo. (CTV News Ottawa)
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Ottawa's snow-clearing budget received some relief from Mother Nature at the start of the year.

A new report shows the city's Road Services department posted a $4.8 million surplus in the first three months of the year, due to lower expenditures in winter maintaining the roads, sidewalk and pathway network.

"For the period of January to March 2024, the City received near average freezing rain hours, lower than normal snow accumulation of 75 cm, which was 48 per cent lower than the five-year average of 143 cm and higher than average freeze thaw cycles of 44 which was 19 per cent higher than the five-year average of 37," says a report for the June 4 finance and corporate services committee meeting.

Ottawa has budgeted $92.5 million for winter operations this year, including $13.4 million for sidewalk and pathway clearing.

In 2023, the city posted a $13.8 million deficit in the winter maintenance budget due to an increase in snow accumulation.

Overall, the city of Ottawa posted a $3.457 million surplus in all departments in the first quarter of 2024. Staff says the overall surplus was offset by a $13 million deficit in Housing Services due to the timing of the receipt of provincial funding, which was confirmed after March 31.

The report shows Ottawa posted a $1.5 million surplus in parking services due to higher on-and off-street parking revenues, a $1.2 million surplus in Solid Waste Services and a $1 million surplus in Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services due to higher revenue from arena and short-term rentals.

The city's Transportation Services department posed a $7.6 million deficit due to the delayed implementation of the Ottawa Processing Centre for the Automated Speed Enforcement program and the delayed installation of five cameras caused by the service provider's labour interruption, according to the report.

The city's rate-supported services (water and wastewater services), posted a $1.197 million surplus due to higher water usage rates.

Staff say all departments were asked to double-check spending to ensure there will be no surprise expenditures through the year.

"All departments and service areas were asked to review their first quarter results to ensure that their respective spending and revenue results were not indicative of any underlying issues needing to be highlighted or addressed at this time," the report says.

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