Calgary city council is bringing in a fine for failing to clear snow from sidewalks just 24 hours after a snowfall.
Starting in the winter of 2020, the city is going to fine homeowners and property owners $150 for a first offence, $500 for a second offence and $750 for a third offence for failing to shovel.
There is a system in place where, if a complaint is filed, bylaw could order a cleanup. If that request is ignored, the city would send a crew to do the work. The homeowner would be billed for the service.
Councillor Druh Farrell says it’s become common for residents to just wait for the bill from the city.
“Most Calgarians participate in that. There are a handful who repeatedly don’t and they refuse to because it’s frankly cheaper to allow the city to provide this service.”
She’s concerned about the number of slips and falls that happened last winter.
Farrell believes tacking on a fine to the cleanup bill will help incent people to shovel in a timely manner.
Bylaw officials say no tickets will be handed out this winter season as they work on public education and awareness.
Farrell still thinks it will be enough to change behaviour when winter weather hits this year.
“I do, yes, because there’s more awareness about the issue and also we’re talking about easier communication to report a property, for example.”
Fines will begin in the 2020 season.
“We don’t anticipate doing the fines until the 2020 season, not this season,” said Alvin Murray, Calgary’s chief bylaw officer.
“We’ll continue to do our regular model and that is to seek compliance. Fines are something that are a last resort for us.”
Council recently approved an injection of up to $9 million to clear an additional 100 kilometres of paths and sidewalks adjacent to city property within 24 hours.
Councillor Peter Demong wanted a fine program delayed until it was shown the city could practice what it was preaching.
“I would be in favour of this next year, after we’ve proven that we can do it within a 24-hour period on our own sidewalks,” he said.
“I’m not going to be putting forward fining somebody for doing something that we have not been doing on a regular basis.”