The City of Calgary’s 311 line has been inundated with hundreds of calls for “snow on road” and “snow on pathway” since the big snowfalls in December.
“We have seen a significant increase in the call loads that our officers are carrying right now,” said Sue Wall, an inspector with the city’s community standards unit.
Crews have been clearing city owned paths and bylaw officers are dealing with complaints about sidewalks not shoveled since the pre-Christmas snowfalls.
“It would take longer for people — we understand that because of the significant amount of snow that did fall — but it is still under the bylaw that 24 hours is what is required under the law to remove that snow from the sidewalk,” Wall said.
If homeowners don’t get rid of the snow after 24 hours, it could end up costing them. In late 2019, the city starting issuing fines to go along with the bylaw.
It’s $250 for a first offence, as well as an additional $150 to cover the cost of clearing the sidewalk. A second offence is $500 and the ticket is $750 for a third offence,
Wall said COVID-19 has had an effect, with more people at home getting the shovels out.
“More people have been at home so there’s more opportunity for them to clear their sidewalks,” Wall said.
The head of a Calgary based accessibility consulting firm said the city could do a better job of making city owned sidewalks a priority when it comes to snow removal.
“The priorities aren’t there,” Level Playing Field founder Darby Young said. “So if we can rely on our neighbours and our community groups to help look after everybody. The snow for persons with disabilities and seniors is awful,”
Young said she would like to see all Calgarians who are able to pitch in and help each other by shoveling.
“Especially if you live on a corner — if you could take the extra time to clear the curb cut and not just make it so that it’s a wall at the end of the curb cut, but if you could shovel so that people can clearly cross the road,” Young said.
Wall said there has been a “good amount” of compliance since the fines were introduced.
“We have educated over the years the importance of clearing snow and ice from the sidewalks so we do see a majority of compliance across the city, but there are still those out there that should be maintaining their sidewalks and still don’t. So we are looking with dealing with that appropriately moving forward,” Wall said.