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Edmonton clarifies snow policy: how quickly must sidewalks be cleared?

How long do you have to clear the sidewalk in front of your house after it snows? .
How long do you have to clear the sidewalk in front of your house after it snows? . Kendra Slugoski, Global News

*EDITOR’S NOTE: On Monday morning, a city spokesperson said in an interview with several media outlets that a 48-hour grace period after a snow event was “a guideline, but it was never a bylaw requirement” and that bylaw officers “can ticket immediately after a snow event.” However, her superior later clarified the average homeowner shouldn’t expect to be fined immediately after a snowfall. 

Confusion at an Edmonton media event about how quickly people have to shovel the sidewalks in front of their property led the city to clarify its position on Monday.

“Property owners should clear their sidewalks promptly after a snowfall and regularly during continuous days of snowfall,” said Chrystal Coleman, communications advisor with the city’s Citizen Services. “We also ask that sand be applied to sidewalks immediately after a freeze-thaw cycle.

“Phone lines open for complaints 48 hours after a snowfall but ticketing and warnings could be given before that in certain circumstances such as if you are a chronic offender, a business or there has been days of continuous snowfall or in cases where freeze/thaw cycles have made the sidewalks icy.

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“As always, property owners can appeal their tickets,” Coleman said in an emailed statement to Global News.

Last year, bylaw officers responded to a lot of sidewalk complaints — 10,600 in fact — but city spokesperson Karey Steil couldn’t say exactly how many tickets were handed out.

Coleman said ticket numbers are posted in the Open Data portal.

READ MORE: Sidewalk clearing complaints down in Edmonton; Garneau top ticketed neighbourhood

The city’s website says sidewalk complaints are accepted between Nov. 1 and May 1 “and only when it has not snowed for at least 48 hours.”

Several sections about snow removal on the city’s website also uses the 48-hour time period.

Coleman said the Living in Edmonton guide will be updated to remove the 48-hour reference.

Screen captures from the city of Edmonton's website on Nov. 5, 2018.
Screen captures from the city of Edmonton's website on Nov. 5, 2018.
Screen captures from the city of Edmonton's website on Nov. 5, 2018.
Screen captures from the city of Edmonton's website on Nov. 5, 2018.

The fine for not clearing your sidewalk of snow is $100. And you may face additional costs.

“We have a contractor who will clean your walk and you’ll be charged the cleanup costs as well,” Steil said.

That cost varies depending on how big the job is.

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READ MORE: Freezing rain, blowing snow covers Edmonton roads

“It’s unfortunate but it is up to every property owner to clear their sidewalks,” she said. “We ask that they ask their neighbours, their family, there are seniors associations that do offer a lot of assistance.

“If you’re a property owner, you have to clear your sidewalk.”

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Steil said bylaw officers are on duty all winter for snow and ice issues.

READ MORE: Shovelling app puts snow removal at Edmontonians’ fingertips

“Our general guidelines is down to the bare pavements… We’re making sure there’s no packed snow, no packed ice — down to the bare pavement is the best way to ensure bylaw will stay off your back.”

If you have a concern about a neighbour’s uncleared walk, the city suggests talking to them, offering to help clear it, recording the address and calling 311 or register a complaint online.

Edmonton will use a de-icing solution again in the 2018-2019 winter season. Nov. 5, 2018.
Edmonton will use a de-icing solution again in the 2018-2019 winter season. Nov. 5, 2018. Dave Carels, Global News
The city of Edmonton revealed its winter road plans for the 2018-2019 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.
The city of Edmonton revealed its winter road plans for the 2018-2019 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Dave Carels, Global News
Edmonton will use a de-icing solution again in the 2018-2019 winter season. Nov. 5, 2018.
Edmonton will use a de-icing solution again in the 2018-2019 winter season. Nov. 5, 2018. Dave Carels, Global News
The city of Edmonton revealed its winter road plans for the 2018-2019 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.
The city of Edmonton revealed its winter road plans for the 2018-2019 season on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Dave Carels, Global News

On main roads this season, the city is planning to use less salt. However, salt use largely depends on the weather.

A sodium chloride solution — which is another form of road salt that appears slightly pink due to the slight amount of pot ash in it — will also be used.

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Last year, Edmonton used five times more salt than it did two years ago.

READ MORE: Chemical engineer pleads with city to stop using calcium chloride on Edmonton roads

Crews will also being using the calcium chloride solution again but has adjusted the concentration this year to include a more effective corrosion inhibitor.

The solution will be used on major routes before a snowfall and afterwards as a de-icer.

The goal is to get to bare pavement on main roads.

READ MORE: Edmonton to continue spraying calcium chloride on roads for another winter

The Capital Region was hit with wintry weather Friday, which caused huge travel delays on major roads like Anthony Henday Drive. Still, the city said it did everything it could to prepare for that dreadful commute.

READ MORE: Freezing rain and snowfall warnings issued for City of Edmonton and areas north

Crews were working around the clock Sunday to get ready for Monday morning.

“Looking at the weather forecast and talking to all the districts we decided to double up on our crews at around 3 p.m. yesterday, throughout the night and into today, just to try and cover all our priority one roadways for this morning’s commute,” Andrew Grant, with infrastructure field operations, said.

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