• Sidewalk Plowing

    Posted on December 15, 2015 by in City Services, Shared Opinion

    As winter (and the budget) approaches we once again are faced with the issue of keeping or eliminating sidewalk snow plowing.

    Hello, I see in the Trib that sidewalk snowplowing is under review, again.
    Please look carefully at the sidewalks around schools and the walking routes
    Willow between Marksam and Westwood is used by a large number of young kids, often with young siblings along for the walk. After some storms, the drifts are too high for a kindergartener to walk through, or a stroller to be pushed through.
    The sidewalks on Westwood Drive near the school are often as bad. Worse, since there are windrows across the ends of the sidewalks. Kids have to stand on top of the windrow (not a stable surface) to see if it’s safe, then stumble down the windrow (onto the street) and cross.

    It might be a jurisdictional issue. Part of the route is beside houses (well, their hedges) but those houses don’t consider the sidewalk to be beside their lots. It’s a lot of sidewalk for very few houses, so unfair to expect the homeowners to handle them.
    Part of the route is beside the school yard .And no, they can’t take the Blueridge shortcut in winter. It’s a great toboggan hill, but not so great if you have short legs and a backpack. Also, Westwood drive gets very narrow. There needs to be room for parked cars and two lanes of traffic, and room for kids to get out of the cars.
    Last year, it shrunk to only one lane of cars, and often kids couldn’t open the curb-side door because of snow, so got out on the traffic side.

    I’m sure other schools in the city have similar problems. I don’t mind too much if the sidewalks on smaller streets aren’t plowed, There’s less traffic, so kids can walk on the roads if necessary. Also, most homeowners do a reasonable job. But please ensure that the sidewalks on busy roads that are walked by students are plowed, even those that aren’t in an official school traffic zone.
    Thank you,

    I am writing to encourage you to vote to eliminate the residential sidewalk plowing program. It is time for this program to go.

    Home ownership is a responsibility. As a home owner you are responsible to maintain your property. The city does not cut your grass, pickup garbage on your property, remove dead trees or pick up after your dog, yet there are bylaws that govern the appearance of your property. Grass cutting takes far more time in the growing season than shoveling your sidewalk after the occasional snow fall and people find the time to do this.

    Also, in today’s society, many people own snow-blowers where there was a time when far less people owned such machines. And why do they own these? To remove the snow from their driveway and the mouth of their driveway. Neither area is cleared by the city and they find the time to do this. If your driveway and walkway are not cleared, you are civilly liable if someone were to fall and injure themselves and Canada Post will not deliver your mail to your door if the carrier feels it is unsafe for them to do so. I don’t see how expecting people to clear the snow from the sidewalk in front of their house is adding an incredible burden or responsibility and I think you will find bylaw enforcement minimal. 

    If bylaw enforcement is a concern then I could name a number of bylaws that could potentially be eliminated to save more money with little impact on residents. Far less impact than the condition of the sidewalks the last couple of winters. Also, I’m sure noise complaints are down this time of year, property standards complaints are down this time of year and a number of other bylaw enforcement issues are down this time of year so will there really be more burden on enforcement officers?

    I also find it frustrating when the sidewalk plow drives down my freshly shoveled sidewalk and knocks snow back onto the sidewalk and packs it down under it’s wheels because it is too wide for the sidewalk in my neighbourhood. Even more frustrating is when the plow digs up huge amounts of my lawn in the fall and spring when the ground isn’t quite frozen and the driver can’t keep the plow on the sidewalk.

    The city should provide real services that can only be provided by the city such as affordable public transportation, snow removal from roadways, parks and recreation facilities etc. Sidewalk snow plowing is not a service required by the city.

    Each summer the city spends money marking the sidewalks where there are tripping hazards. I can say for the last two winters the sidewalks not cleared by homeowners were far more hazardous than many of the hazards I have seen sprayed in day-glow orange paint.

    Please stop wasting money on a perceived service. This program is truly a waste of money as you can see from the pictures I have attached. Mine is the clear one. The other is a city maintained sidewalk in front of my neighbour’s house.

    On a related note, why did the sidewalk plow clear the sidewalk in my neighbourhood today? The forecast temperatures for the next 5 days are well above zero. The small amount of snow that we received would have melted in the next day or two. Did the operator really have nothing else to do?

    I know it’s not a lot of money and it’s really not about the money for me. It’s about having sidewalks that are passable in this city during the winter months. The only way to achieve this is for homeowners to be responsible for their sidewalks.

    Sincerely, JB

    I hope that when the issue comes up for discussion that you will be voting AGAINST continuing to plough city sidewalks in residential areas.

    It is useless in providing safe walking for pedestrians. This morning was a classic example. There was not enough snow in the last few days to plough or sand our walks (which only occurs several days after a snowfall anyways except on weekends when staff are out collecting overtime pay). Overnight the low temperatures froze what snow and water was left on sidewalks in front of delinquent homeowners making the walking treacherous for anyone, including myself (with no disability).

    I recognize that in the grand scheme of the budget that the savings may be minimal but that is not my concern. There is no reason that we as neighbours can not look after those nearby affected by age or disability. In fact, it is my observation that it is the younger neighbours that fail to shovel and salt their sidewalks.



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