July 17, 2019

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Snow job for citizens?

City to consider requiring residents to keep sidewalks shovelled

A City of Winnipeg report recommends homeowners be required to shovel public sidewalks down to the 'bare pavement' or risk penalties.

BORIS MINKEVICH/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

A City of Winnipeg report recommends homeowners be required to shovel public sidewalks down to the 'bare pavement' or risk penalties.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/6/2015 (1484 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The burden of clearing snow from city sidewalks may soon fall onto the shovels of Winnipeg homeowners.

Residential walks are currently cleared of snow by the city, but support is growing at city hall to follow the practice of most other Canadian cities, which force homeowners to shovel the city's walks and fine those who refuse.

"We typically look at it annually during the budgeting process," said Brad Sacher, director of public works, adding the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every winter clearing sidewalks.

"We're asked to look at what kind of efficiencies we can find, and this one sticks out like a sore thumb because so many other cities do it this way."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/6/2015 (1484 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The burden of clearing snow from city sidewalks may soon fall onto the shovels of Winnipeg homeowners.

Residential walks are currently cleared of snow by the city, but support is growing at city hall to follow the practice of most other Canadian cities, which force homeowners to shovel the city's walks and fine those who refuse.

"We typically look at it annually during the budgeting process," said Brad Sacher, director of public works, adding the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every winter clearing sidewalks.

"We're asked to look at what kind of efficiencies we can find, and this one sticks out like a sore thumb because so many other cities do it this way."

Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of the public works committee, said if Sacher doesn't raise the issue in a pending cost-benefit analysis of snow clearing, she will make sure it becomes part of the public debate.

"We should put the facts on the table about what it costs," Lukes (St. Norbert) said. "We're one of the very few cities that do it."

The issue surfaced after it was discovered it was included as part of a 20-year pedestrian and cycling strategy. Buried in the 344-page report was a recommendation the city end its practice of clearing residential sidewalks and instead require homeowners to do it and fine those who don't.

Residential sidewalks "should become the responsibility of every owner or occupant of any building abutting the public sidewalk," the recommendation in the pedestrian and cycling strategy report states. "These sidewalks should be cleared within 24 hours of end of snowfall and should be shovelled to bare pavement...

"Penalties should be imposed on residents who fail to clear their sidewalk."

Public works acknowledges some people — particularly seniors and those with mobility issues — may not be able to clear their own sidewalks in winter, and recommends initiatives to assist those individuals, including a "snow angels" program — neighbours and volunteers who shovel works for those physically unable.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt told the committee the recommendations on sidewalk snow clearing should be removed from the strategy document, but the committee accepted the report in its entirety and it now heads to council for consideration.

In addition to sidewalk snow clearing, city streets are cleared down to the bare pavement, from curb to curb.

There was a public uproar when a consulting firm reviewed the public works department operations and said city hall could save money if it didn't clear the streets from curb to curb. The suggestion was never adopted.

Sacher said the sidewalk snow-clearing issue found its way into the strategy document after it was raised by residents during the public consultation process.

Sacher said some residents said they'd prefer to shovel the walk in front of their homes instead of waiting for city crews to do the work a week after a snowstorm.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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