By Mike Anderson

The Town’s windrow snow clearing program has become a victim of its own success.

On February 2, Town Council voted 6-1 to close applications for the pilot program, just two weeks after it began accepting applications.

The windrow clearing program removes heavy snow at the bottom of a resident’s driveway within 24 hours of snowplows clearing the road.

There were strict eligibility requirements for the program, only residents who were over 65 or people with disabilities were approved.

The Town estimated that the pilot program would receive between 50 to 100 applications, but it ended up getting 265.

Although there was no initial cutoff date, council approved the recommendation from staff to end the application process, citing greater than anticipated demand and higher costs.

The pilot program’s original budget, approved by council, was $15,000.

However, the Town was forced to hire contractors to service the increased number of applications, with costs now expected to exceed $30,000.

“I think we’ll be able to manage even though the numbers are significantly higher than we first anticipated,” said Rob Flindall, director of operations and infrastructure.

“There is some benefit to keeping the program open because we might know what the numbers might look like for next year. But you have to be aware of the costs.”

While Flindall says it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of applicants for the program next year, he anticipates that between 500 to 700 people will apply.

According to Michael Vos, roads operations manager, the cost of next year’s program, based on 500 residents and 14 weather events, is estimated to be between $84,000 to $112,000.

While Mayor Margaret Quirk was pleased with the response, she didn’t see a need to extend the pilot program this year, preferring to wait for a staff report outlining the costs and recommendations for next year’s program.

“I think it does give us a really good number to judge the pilot program,” she said.

“We had anticipated maybe 50 to a 100. This is certainly higher than that number. But it will give us a really good indication of how the program can work, what the pitfalls are, what the concerns are, and get it refined for the report to come back to us.”

Regional Councillor Rob Grossi cast the sole dissenting vote; he argued the pilot program should continue to accept applications.

“I don’t believe we should stop today,” Grossi said.

“When you launch a program like this, and you exceed your expectations, you shouldn’t penalize the rest of the community by saying there’s a cutoff date when many people in this community don’t even know about the program.”

“I think we should extend it as long as we have to during the season. Let the chips fall where they may, use contingencies wherever they need to be used, and then evaluate the program at the end of the season.”

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