With city council having eyed bylaws mandating residents remove snow from their stretch of sidewalk, it looks like voluntary snow removal will continue.
During Monday’s executive committee meeting, the city’s elected officials tentatively agreed to continue with voluntary compliance -- a decision they’re expected to finalize during their Jan. 14 city council meeting.
“There’s case law out there that really puts the onus back on municipalities with regard to snow removal off of sidewalks everywhere,” Coun. Martin Ring said.
This, he added, “is scary, because you think we don’t have money right now for some things. Try putting it into snow removal on every sidewalk of this city. We can’t afford it, and all that we’re looking for is some voluntary compliance by people.”
This winter, Ring said that the people living in his ward have been doing an excellent job at clearing their stretch of sidewalk on a voluntary basis.
“Let’s move forward with it and find different ways to encourage people to shovel their walkways,” he encouraged.
The city plans to continue along with its Golden Shovel Award effort, wherein residents can nominate a neighbor who is proficient at clearing sidewalks for the recognition.
As per a city administration report, voluntary compliance can be encouraged by city hall, with residents able to direct the city to problem areas where snow is not being removed.
Although some municipalities provide residents with free sand to shovel onto sidewalks, council objected to this idea during Monday’s meeting.
“I’ve never had a resident ask for sand,” Coun. Lee Atkinson said of administration’s suggestion that free sand be provided.
Let’s move forward with it and find different ways to encourage people to shovel their walkways. - Coun. Martin Ring
“In 2013, I want to cut costs, not add them, and I have never had anyone ask for sand,” Mayor Greg Dionne said in agreement.
Although sidewalk snow removal is set to continue to be done on a voluntary basis, the city’s downtown core has had a bylaw in place since 1992 mandating business owners with removing snow from their stretch of sidewalk within 48 hours.
If they neglect to do so, the city has the ability to remove the snow at cost to the property owner, though bylaw staff have indicated that they’ve never had to do so.
Although council was in agreement on these decisions on Monday, it won’t be until the Jan. 14 city council meeting that they’re official.
During Monday’s meeting, Coun. Ted Zurakowski added a side note to the sidewalk debate by mentioning a problem he’s noticed on roadways.
Residents love seeing the snow plow coming down their street, he said, “but it drives them crazy when the neighbor down the street is not moving their vehicle.”
It would be nice to see a tow truck and bylaw enforcement officers accompany snow removal efforts, he said, respectively towing and ticketing vehicles.
“For the few people who will get a ticket on their vehicle, that ticket, I think, will be applauded by their neighbours, because it allows us to be more efficient, to get through the city quicker, and allows us to do a much cleaner job.”