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North Bay wrestling with winter road maintenance

NORTH BAY, Ont. -- Councillors weren't happy to hear the public works director say yesterday that road plowing and...

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Councillors weren’t happy to hear the public works director say yesterday that road plowing and salting may have to be reduced in order to balance the winter maintenance budget.

The city’s winter maintenance budget is $1.9 million.

Brian Baker, the director of public works, said during an engineering and works committee presentation that North Bay has high standards for winter road maintenance, but “we have to get direction to change” if the standard is too high and too expensive.

North Bay has 350 kilometres of urban and rural roads to maintain during the winter.

Baker says under new federal regulations, municipalities are being forced to manage salt use because of toxicity that causes environmental damage.

He says the city spends almost 30 per cent of its winter road maintenance budget on coarse salt. Using salt more efficiently could save 10 per cent, and an investment of $200,000 in new spreading equipment could reduce salt waste another 20 per cent a year.

One councillor challenged Baker to find the money for new equipment by cutting operating costs, but Mayor Jack Burrows says North Bay would have to “look at it long and hard” before reducing winter road maintenance services because it could affect economic developoment and tourism. North Bay’s policy of keeping roads in good condition during the winter has been around a long time, he noted.

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