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Snow removal budget in CBRM maxed out following February storms

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Each bite out of a snowbank has taken a bite out of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's snow removal budget, since two major winter storms hit the area since the start of February.

"So to put it into perspective, we pretty well used up our entire snow removal budget for the entire year with this one big snowfall,” said Jenna MacQueen of CBRM Communications.

The municipality says it typically budgets for about fifteen snowfalls per year and things were actually under-budget when the month started.

However, the 150 centimeters that came at the start of February, followed by another 30-plus on Valentine's Day, caused the snow piles, and the bills, to add up quickly.

"This snowstorm has cost us $2 million in snow removal, and then we also had to purchase $1 million worth of snowblowers,” MacQueen said. “The snowblowers that we typically have for sidewalks aren't sufficient for this amount of snow."

Though cleanup crews have been working around the clock, Charlotte Street in Sydney’s downtown core remains pretty snowed in.

As of Tuesday, the area finally had sidewalks again but until recently businesses were difficult to access. Still, the area's councilor says other areas had to come first.

"I've had a few calls from some of the business owners wondering when sidewalks and clearing and snow removal would be starting,” said CBRM councilor Eldon MacDonald. "I mean, just about every intersection in my district and in the city has challenges with trying to get out side streets and the main roads. Every one of them are dangerous. Every one of them need to have snow removal done on them."

The municipality adds that it has asked the Nova Scotia government for assistance with the cost of snow removal.

Macdonald, meanwhile, pointed out that costs have also been incurred when machinery has broken down.

"We've tried to acquire more equipment,” MacDonald said. “We're doing the best with what we have."

CBRM added that things are now at the point where sidewalks have taken over from road widening, as the main priority.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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