FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government is taking several steps to reduce winter maintenance expenses by an estimated $4 million.

"New Brunswick is a small province with limited resources," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams. "We can no longer do business as usual. We must focus on creating an efficient and sustainable system of program and service delivery. By following our policies, we will achieve significant savings for taxpayers while ensuring that services are provided fairly and equally around the province.

"As part of a strategic review, we looked at issues such as our policies on which roads to plow; better prioritizing when to plow; and salt usage. We recognized that if we better enforced our policies and guidelines and ensured we had an efficient snowplow fleet, it would save taxpayers $4 million each year."

The Department of Transportation is making six key changes to its winter maintenance program:

New private roads will not be plowed

The department will not plow new private roads because this is not part of its mandate. However, those private roads that the department is already clearing will be grandfathered.

Fewer snowplows

The department will be reducing the number of snowplows by five per cent - which represents removing 21 old and inefficient units from service. They are expensive to maintain and are prone to break down.

Fewer winter staff

The number of winter staff positions will be reduced, mainly through attrition, during the next two years, for estimated savings of $2.2 million.

Use of salt

The department will put in place stricter monitoring of salt application in accordance with provincial guidelines.

Level of service

The department will ensure stricter adherence to designated service levels for roads.

Plowing on private and public not-maintained roads

In accordance with an existing policy, starting in 2012-13, the department will only plow private and public not-maintained roads that have at least three residences occupied full-time.

Williams expected that most people will not notice the changes, but a small number living on roads that do not meet the standard in the supplementary winter maintenance service policy, will lose plowing services starting next winter.

"We are preparing to contact homeowners who live on private and public not-maintained roads to give them one year's notice that, after this winter, the provincial government will no longer plow their roads," said Williams.

A list of the roads involved as well as contact information for those wanting more information are on the department's website.

An audit found that of 567 private and public not-maintained roads plowed by the department, 216 did not meet the policy. Thirty-eight did not have any residences occupied full-time, providing access only to commercial forestry, fishing and sugar bush operations, camps, cottages and clubs. Another 178 only had one or two residences occupied full-time.


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