Price of Toronto snow storms carried by contractors

by | Feb 28, 2014 | News

Celia Grimbly    
News Reporter

This winter came with a price tag, but Humber’s all-inclusive snow contracts accommodated the harsh winter weather.

Humber College signs multiple-year snow-clearing contracts with off-site contractors prior to the winter season. In fact, they sign the contracts in the summer.

“We develop the specifications and the drawing of who’s going to do what and we go out to tender,” said Spencer Wood, Humber associate director for Maintenance and Operations. “We get pricing from the various contractors, and we define what they’re supposed to do.”

The snow clearing contracts account for $500,000 of Maintenance and Operations’ $14-million annual budget, he said. The responsibilities and resources for the contractor were already established when suddenly a blanket of ice, a holiday power outage, burying blizzards and transit delays happened.

“They have to build that risk into their contract that, if it’s a bad winter like we’ve had, they have a lot more labour and salt on site than they would the last winter,” said Wood.

The deals made contractors responsible for any additional costs that pertained to their duties as a result of this winter weather, said John Schroder, manager of Maintenance and Operations.

Lighter winters in the future may alleviate the contractors’ costs, he said.

Humber’s North campus is the only campus without an all-inclusive contract, said Wood, and the on-site maintenance staff spent more time and money battling this winter.

“I think we’ve had four to six weekends that have required them to come in on the weekends and had them come in earlier,” said Schroder.

Wayne Falls, coordinator for Site Maintenance is just one of four full-time staff in the department and said 48 skids of ice melter and salt have been used on campus this winter, twice as much as last year.

“On-site maintenance has spent about $20,000 on salt this year, as a rough estimate, not including what the contractor has spent,” said Schroder.

The on-site maintenance staff accrued approximately 100 overtime hours this winter, said Falls.

This spring – or once the snow melts – workers will repair curbs and sod damaged by snowplowing equipment and salt, he said.

Humber’s preference is to use ice melter, but a shortage of it increased the use of salt – which is more corrosive – on campus this year, Falls said. The repairs will cost between $10,000 and $20,000, Wood said, noting that it’s “not a huge number in the grand scheme of things.”

Maintenance and Operations plans to stock more ice melter earlier next fall and winter to avoid running out in the future and to achieve goals of minimizing salt on campus, said Wood.