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No changes to city snowclearing: committee

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/11/2015 (1329 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City hall won’t be making any changes to its snowclearing program.

Members of the public works committee today endorsed two administrative reports that call for keeping things the way they are: backlane windrows will not be cleared; and, there will be no change in the division of snowclearing work between private contractors and civic crews.

But it was competing reports between a civic union and the administration over the division of snowclearing work — between private contractors and civic staff — that dominated the meeting.

CUPE 500, which represents about 4,600 civic employees, released a report Oct. 23 which demonstrated how city hall could save upwards of $3 million annually by reducing the number of private contracts for snowclearing and spring and summer street maintenance and expanding the civic workforce to handle the increased workload.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/11/2015 (1329 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City hall won’t be making any changes to its snowclearing program.

Members of the public works committee today endorsed two administrative reports that call for keeping things the way they are: backlane windrows will not be cleared; and, there will be no change in the division of snowclearing work between private contractors and civic crews.

But it was competing reports between a civic union and the administration over the division of snowclearing work — between private contractors and civic staff — that dominated the meeting.

CUPE 500, which represents about 4,600 civic employees, released a report Oct. 23 which demonstrated how city hall could save upwards of $3 million annually by reducing the number of private contracts for snowclearing and spring and summer street maintenance and expanding the civic workforce to handle the increased workload.

But an administrative report, which focused solely on snowclearing, concluded costs would increase if city hall stopped using private contractors and did the work itself.

"We did our due diligence," said Gord Delbridge, a vice president with CUPE 500, who explained the union hired a former senior official who was in charge of the city’s fleet management agency to author its report.

City hall contracts out about 80 per cent of its snowclearing work but the union report said there would be savings if the city invested the money into its own equipment and used it year-round, reducing the need for fewer contractors in winter and summer.

The union’s report was ridiculed by an industry representative, who said it was full or errors and could not be taken seriously.

The administrative report, which was dated Oct. 29, was started in February and delayed twice before being presented to the public works committee. The document made no mention of the union study, and only considered two options: costs of the current model versus projected costs if civic crews did all of the snowclearing work.

Lester Deane, acting director of public works, said his staff didn’t have time to conduct a more thorough comparison of snowclearing costs or consider the model offered by the union.

Coun. Ross Eadie encouraged the committee to postpone any decision and instead, order the administration to sit down with the union and see how its report could be implemented.

Eadie (Mynarksi) said the city had to offer financial incentives to private contractors, paying them $1.5 million so they could increase their own fleets. Eadie said that instead of buying equipment for private contractors, the city should buy its own equipment and use it year-round.

Deane said the findings of the administrative report support the department’s belief that the city is getting good value with the current model of delivering snowclearing services, which has been in place for 30 years.

"We are confident our current model works well," Deane said.

However, when it came time to make a decision, committee members appeared unwilling to embrace either report. Committee chairwoman Coun. Janice Lukes asked for a motion but none of the other three councillors – Cindy Gilroy, Devi Sharma and Shane Dobson – were prepared to take a stand.

That prompted Lukes to hand over chairing of the committee to Sharma, allowing Lukes to move a motion the snowclearing review be accepted as information, which passed without objection.

Earlier, the committee members also accepted the administration report that recommended the practice of not clearing backlane windrows be continued.

Delbridge said he was disappointed with the committee’s decision but not surprised.

Delbridge also said the union will continue to press councillors to reconsider the extent of contracting out of civic services.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 2:20 PM CST: Fixes name to Gord Delbridge.

4:46 PM: Writethru.

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