The use of salt combined with other car-produced run off (oils, grease, anti-freeze, gasoline, brake fluid, etc.) should also be considered as an environmental cost, especially when it directly impacts water quality and habitat in and around Cootes Paradise. Efforts to improve water quality would benefit from less roads and larger wetlands, for example] - r
Hamilton plowing among province's priciest TheSpec.com - Local - Hamilton plowing among province's priciestBlame high level of service and highways
Nicole Macintyre, The Hamilton Spectator, (Dec 23, 2008)
When it comes to cleaning up after Mother Nature, Hamilton spends more -- way more -- than its neighbours.
In fact, Hamilton's snow- and ice-clearing costs are among the most expensive in the province.
Blame it on the escarpment, expressways, one-way streets and your neighbour who parks his car on the street.
"It all adds to the cost," explains Scott Stewart, the city's outgoing head of public works.
Last year, Hamilton spent nearly $3,900 on winter clearing for every lane kilometre in the city. There's nearly 6,500 kilometres in total.
Burlington, by comparison, spent about $1,875 per lane kilometre and Brantford, $2,326.
Neither of those cities, however, have expressways such as Hamilton's Linc and new Red Hill Valley Parkway.
Both roads, combined with more than a dozen escarpment accesses, eat up a major portion of the city's $27.5-million winter road budget, explained Stewart.
When a storm hits, the city keeps trucks running continuously on key routes such as the Jolley Cut, mainly to ensure there's clear access to hospitals.
And while many cities only have one hospital to worry about, Hamilton has four, notes Stewart.
"That's a priority."
Residential street parking, which forces plow drivers into tight spaces, also drives up the cost.
It's less of an issue for newer communities where driveways abound.
It's also a major operation clearing some of the city's five-lane, one-way streets where it's not possible to just send out one plow at a time.
But not all of Hamilton's winter costs are out of city hall's control. Several years ago, council chose to upgrade the city's snow response to ensure residents would see cleaner roads sooner.
"There's no question our level of service is higher," said Joe Rinaldo, acting city manager.
The response depends on the severity of the weather, but when it's a mild storm residents should see a plow on their local road within eight hours.
If it's a major storm, like the one that hit Hamilton on Friday, a plow should be there within 24 hours of the final flakes.
Brantford, by contrast, gives itself 36 hours, the provincial minimum, to clean up. Mississauga allows up to 48 hours if it's a dump of more than 15 centimetres.
If Hamilton wanted to save money, it could scale back its response, but Councillor Chad Collins said that's not the message he's getting from taxpayers.
"They'd like to see a higher, not a lower, level of service," he said, recalling the litany of complaints he received when the city cut back service after amalgamation.