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Calgary councillor looks to improve city sidewalk clearing

Calgary's sidewalks are supposed to be clear within 24 hours of a snowfall according to the city's bylaws. .
Calgary's sidewalks are supposed to be clear within 24 hours of a snowfall according to the city's bylaws. . Tim Lee / Global News

Calgary resident Brenda Milligan tries to get out for a walk every day and during the winter, she often finds herself taking a side step or two.

“We walk more on the road than on the sidewalk now because it’s safer,” Milligan said on Wednesday afternoon while out for a stroll.

READ MORE: Snow? Just beet it! Calgary uses beet brine to clear icy streets

Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell hopes to address Milligan’s concerns. She’s working on a notice of motion to take before city council which will focus on improving walkway clearing across Calgary.

“We have a responsibility to make the city safe and accessible for everyone and we’re not doing that,” Farrell said.

“I’ve been on this topic for many years… We’re not getting any better.”

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Farrell said recent large snowstorms have shown the “inadequacy of our system,” prompting her to look at taking action. One idea she’s floating is adding an additional punishment to homeowners who fail to clear their walks after receiving a warning from the city to do so.

Snow is supposed to be cleared from all sidewalks and pathways within 24 hours of a snowfall, according to Calgary’s bylaw. Currently, a homeowner must only pay the cost associated for a work crew to clear the area if they don’t comply with the warning.

“We have a bylaw where there’s no fine,” Farrell said.

“Perhaps we need to look at a way to enforce our bylaw more closely.”

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Farrell said the city also needs to do a better job complying with its own bylaw by clearing its pathways in a timely manner. She also said the city spends an “inadequate” amount of roughly $2.5 million annually to clear walkways.

Ottawa, in comparison, spends $8.7 million on treating its sidewalks in the winter, while Winnipeg allocates $3.9 million to clear its pathways.

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Calgary resident Colin MacDonald admitted that the city has to do something better than “Chinook clearing” when it comes to taking care of its pathways and is interested in what funding figures Farrell will propose going forward.

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“As a cautious taxpayer, I’d say show me what it’s going to cost first and then you can have that discussion.”

Farrell said she plans on having her notice of motion complete by late January or early February.