There is one surefire way to get rid of ice and snow from sidewalks that are seemingly covered all winter long: wait for it to melt. Based on steady complaints to Councillor Andrew Knack’s office, he can’t wait that long.
Knack launched an inquiry at Tuesday’s city council meeting that is intended to make sure the main sidewalks in any neighborhood are done quickly, and that if someone calls to complain, the enforcement by city bylaw staff is done right away.
Knack told reporters he’s not looking for the city to come in with shovels and plows to handle the job itself, although his inquiry asks if that could be a solution on main roads that criss-cross neighborhoods. His frustration stems from a few properties that are barely touched all winter.
“Is fining them the right tool to actually get to where we want or do we need to look at: how does the city consider taking responsibility for some of those high-priority locations.”
Knack’s main concern is those who can’t force their way through with walkers, wheelchairs, or strollers trying to do day-to-day activities like get to the neighborhood grocery store, or bank, or run any other kinds of errands.
“Trying to navigate some of those sidewalks that aren’t being cleared properly is a serious issue and ideally you should be able to call 311 and see that resolved quickly. That’s not happening all the time.”
It can take weeks for a complaint to be handled and Knack said it doesn’t have to be that way.
“What would be great — and the technology exists — is that they should be able to take a smart phone, take a picture of the infraction, enter in the address and have a notice immediately sent. (It would) allow them to keep going in responding to complaints instead of having to go back and fill out paperwork at an office.”
He points out that the same can apply to weed-infested green spaces in the summer, making sure the property owner cuts them down on a regular basis.
Knack will get feedback on his inquiry in June. He’s trying to time it to coincide with a regular report city council is going to get on Edmonton’s snow and ice clearing policy.
“This is the first major revision to that policy in almost a decade.
“Because we’re doing that now this seems like the perfect time to also be talking about how we’re dealing with enforcement.”
Councillor Aaron Paquette also has an inquiry that deals specifically with 311 calls and how staff has measured snow and ice complaints.
A review of the snow and ice policy is due later this summer, so any changes council wants to make can be in place by the fall in time for the next time the snow flies, and doesn’t melt.