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Toronto city bylaw prohibits residents from dumping snow on streets

ABOVE: Shoveling snow on the road could cost you $360. Cindy Pom reports. 

TORONTO – You’d better think twice before clearing snow off your property and onto city streets because you could face a stiff fine.

The City of Toronto is reminding homeowners to refrain from pushing snow onto the roads because this can pose a safety hazard and hamper snow clearing operations.

If caught in the act, a person can be fined up to $360.

The city also recommends against blocking sightlines that can prevent a person from exiting your driveway safely.

Mariana Valverde, an expert of bylaws in Toronto and professor at the University of Toronto, compares the bylaw to the law against jaywalking; it’s not commonly enforced but it is necessary.

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“It would be silly to be prosecuting all kinds of people for jaywalking but if you have it there maybe you can use it if there are some people who are being completely foolish and endangering the public,” she said.

While the bylaw does allow enforcement officers to fine people hundreds of dollars for each offence, Valverde says they generally exercise common sense and discretion.

Torontonians are also responsible for clearing their sidewalks of snow and ice, despite it being city property. Valverde says that bylaw is among the last remaining vestiges of bylaws created in the 19th century when the city didn’t have staff.

“It’s the only example that I can think of, of governments forcing private citizens to do public works for nothing,” she said. “It’s the last remaining bit of a whole structure of local law that used to demand that ordinary citizens contribute to what later became public works.”

Snow clearing on the local roads is usually completed between 14-16 hours after the snow stops falling.

But if your road has not been plowed after this time period, residents are advised to call 311.

City officials have released a few tips on how you can help out following a snow storm:

  • Wherever possible, keep parked cars off the roads. This assists our snow plowing efforts.
  • Continue to drive with caution. Roads may still be slippery in some areas.
  • Snow plows are still clearing roads. Expect some delays.
  • Avoid parking vehicles over sidewalks.
  • Private snow clearing operators and the public are reminded that it is illegal to push snow back onto the street from private property or parking lots.
  • Assist elderly or disabled neighbours by shovelling snow for them.
  • Clear snow from around catch basins to prevent flooding on the roadway.
  • Clear snow from around fire hydrants.
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