Edmonton is considering snow and ice levies
Free dumping of snow at one of Edmonton’s four snow storage yards may eventually come to an end as the city considers charging fees from individuals and contractors.
The City Inspector recommended that the Parks and Roads Department find ways to save money and generate revenue as part of its snow and ice removal program.
At a meeting Monday, the council’s audit committee considered an update from the auditor that showed the city is analyzing tips as a way to do so.
There is currently no tipping fee for offloading snow and ice at the city’s four public sites at Ellerslie, 17th Street, Horsehills and Poundmaker.
80 to 90 percent of the materials dumped at these sites come from private service providers such as local businesses, contractors and other communities, a city report shows.
“It’s coming from private companies and parking lots and whatnot, and I was surprised that there’s really nothing that could charge those private companies for it,” Ward Sspomitapi councilwoman Jo-Anne Wright told CBC News on Monday .
Managing these sites costs the city $3.2 million a year, according to a February 2021 audit report.
It’s not clear how much the city could make if they started charging people for snow dumping.
Gord Cebryk, manager of city operations, said his teams are evaluating the technology and infrastructure needed before the city can collect tipping fees.
“We found … that there are opportunities to charge third-party users of our snow storage facilities,” Cebryk said. “We need to set up the access controls and the tracking systems so we can actually bill people as they come and go.”
On-site technology may include an automated process to digitally identify the user and the amount of snow dumped, the city says.
Similar to waste fees
Ward Nakota Isga councilor Andrew Knack said that removing snow for free is a perk of a winter town.
“I’m torn because I think there’s a reason we don’t have a fee to clear the snow,” he said in an interview Monday. “That encourages people to keep their properties to what I think are the high standards that we expect.”
Knack noted that the city is in a persistently tight financial situation and that this is a way to make money, similar to how the city charges for garbage disposal.
“Shouldn’t that be the cost of doing business for companies that clear snow? We provide a pretty important service,” Knack said.
Mark Beare, director of infrastructure operations, said it’s common for large communities to charge for using snow dumps using different methods.
The administration will look at what other jurisdictions are doing before presenting options to the council for consideration, Beare said in an emailed statement on Monday.
“We are aware that this will affect many users of our snow dumps, including private companies. Therefore, these decisions are made with a lot of public engagement and notoriety.”
The city has been using designated areas for snow storage for at least 30 years.
The city’s fifth location at the Kennedale site has been closed since 2020 due to environmental concerns.
“Site infrastructure upgrades would be required before administration can resume use,” the city report said.
Sites must meet state and local criteria and guidelines and be appropriately evaluated and designed to ensure proper containment and drainage.