City of Ottawa plowed through snow budget — again

Ottawa's 2017 snow-clearing budget already facing $9.3M deficit

The City of Ottawa spent $13.8 million more on winter operations last year than it budgeted, making 2016 the fifth straight year in which the city ran into the red clearing snow and ice.

And 2017's not looking much better, with the city currently on track for a $10-million shortfall.

Despite increasing the base budget by a few million dollars, the city still managed to dig itself into a deeper hole last year than it did in 2015.

That's partly because Ottawa spent the beginning of January 2016 digging out from heavy snow that fell in the final days of 2015, said deputy city treasurer Isabelle Jasmin. 

This winter's cold, snowy weather also hit earlier, Jasmin noted.

The city reviewed its snow clearing operations last year in a bid to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Staff couldn't say whether recommendations stemming from that review had any impact on spending in 2016. That will be the subject of a report to be presented this summer by public works manager Kevin Wylie. 

Councillors heard Tuesday that the city is currently on track for a $10-million winter operations deficit in 2017.

That's despite having another $4.5 million added to this year's base budget for maintaining roads in the winter.