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The economics of snow


I had to take an Economics of Business class in college nearly 10 years ago. To say it was not my favourite course would be putting it mildly. But, I did learn a thing or two... one of the most obvious being that pretty much EVERYTHING has an economic impact. Looking out the window I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed this year’s lack of snow accumulation. While we haven’t been lacking cool temperatures – who am I kidding, it’s been absolutely brutally cold – that fluffy white stuff we usually get in abundance just doesn’t seem to want to come. While that has meant a lack of shoveling and fewer vehicles getting stuck in the snow piles on the side of Main Street, it also has had a huge impact on the local economy. If you are a snow removal contractor or even an independent shoveller in your spare time, you have seen a major decrease in business from previous years. According to Environment Canada records, Swan River usually averages approximately 136 cm (53.5 inches) of snow each year and by January we would normally have a snow depth of 30 cm (12 inches). In my fairly sheltered yard, I currently have closer to 9 cm (3.5 inches). My husband has yet to pull out the snowblower and, for the most part, we’ve swept the snow off our deck with a broom – no heavy lifting required. You may have noticed the impact on recreation as well. Two years ago we were named the sledding capital of western Canada and our abundance of snow brought snowmobilers from some very far away locations to enjoy the powder. Not the case this year. Not only are local snowmobile dealers likely feeling the impacts but so will local restaurants, hotels and those organizations who rely on the annual poker derby to bring in funds. Also still not open, Thunderhill ski area. With a new T-bar installed and ready to go the club only needs one thing... you guessed it, snow. Luckily they operate debt free, so while it’s not hurting the club, the lack of white stuff still isn’t welcome and was disappointing for many ski and snowboard enthusiasts over the winter holidays. It is only January and we do live in Manitoba so there is a chance that Mother Nature will redeem herself yet. After all, when I wrote this a few days ago they were forecasting us to go from -30C weather to 3C in the span of 10 days. On the brighter side, I’m sure the local municipalities are smiling at the surplus in their snow removal budgets. And, the logging industry will be having a much easier time in the forests. I guess it’s not all snow bad... DGB