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WINNIPEG – On February 10, the City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works approved a motion that would see an in-depth review of the city’s snow clearing services, with particular focus on a cost and quality comparison between private contractors and city-run snow clearing services.

“Winnipeg is a winter city” said Mike Davidson, President of CUPE Local 500, “we must find ways to improve core services like snow clearing to provide a better service to our community.” Approximately 80 per cent of Winnipeg’s snow clearing is done by private contractors, leading to questions about accountability to the public as well as concerns over the cost and quality of privately run snow clearing.

“Our city has not seen a cost-benefit analysis of private snow clearing in at least 17 years” said Davidson, citing a Freedom of Information request filed by Local 500, “the city simply hasn’t bothered to compare private vs. public snow clearing, and we believe the public sector can deliver the type of service Winnipeggers need.”

In 2014, there was public outcry over the way in which private snow clearing contractors handled the brutal weather that hit the city. Complaints included emergency responders who were concerned that fire, police, and paramedic service response times would be impacted, as well as potential damage to emergency vehicles. These concerns were echoed by Manitoba Public Insurance which saw a drastic increase in road-related claims.

“We have been calling for a review of contracted snow removal services for years” said Davidson, “we are pleased that the Councillors on the Public Works Committee have heard these concerns and are supporting this important motion.”

The motion approved by the Public Works Committee would task the City administration to implement a comprehensive review that would look at cost and quality of the services provided by private contractors including: complaints made to the city about private contractors; a review of health and safety and equipment safety records of the contractors; and a review of damage done to public and private property by private snow removal contracts.The Administrative Report is due in June.

For the full text of the motion, click here.