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HRM’s first test in clearing all public sidewalks

HALIFAX – This week’s wintry blast can be considered a first test for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

It marks the first time HRM is responsible for clearing all public sidewalks.

“Through council’s direction this year, we’ve taken on somewhere in the neighbourhood of a couple hundred kilometers extra sidewalk,” explained Darrin Natolino, contract supervisor with the city’s Transportation & Public Works.

The previous by-law meant home and business owners in areas of peninsula Halifax, Armdale and Spryfield were responsible for snow and ice removal on sidewalks abutting their properties.

As of the 2013-2014 season, HRM has employed contractors to take over that responsibility.

“As with anything, there’s always growing pains,” Natolino said.

“It certainly was a forecasted event. We saw it coming – we knew about this well in advance. Staff and contractors have been out on the routes familiarizing themselves with the routes, identifying hazards, taking a look at things on the routes we need to be aware of.”

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HRM’s service standard is to clear priority sidewalks by arterial roads first, followed by residential areas within 36 hours after a snowfall has ended.

But for some, it isn’t quick enough.

“I’m just out salting a bit because you never know, and it’s always the black ice that can really, really cause injury in a fall,” said Linda Dowell on Tuesday morning.

Other homeowners, like Jim Ferguson, just consider it routine to clear their own sidewalks.

“Frankly, I do enjoy a bit of exercise,” he said.

Residents with questions or concerns about their snow and ice removal are asked to call 311.