A majority of city councillors are unwilling to budge on the issue of sidewalk snow clearing in Hamilton.
The latest discussion on the topic has ended with the public works committee voting, 6-4, against an expansion of the program to include 783 laned kilometres of sidewalk along transit routes.
Opponents say taxpayers can’t afford the added annual cost of $2.3 million, or $12 per household, but Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr thinks they could find savings elsewhere.
Farr said during Monday’s meeting that councillors could re-organize the public works budget and “offset, rather than add to the levy.”
“At least in my ward,” said Farr, “there’s a greater interest for this public works service by the taxpayers versus maybe some other things.”
The motion to clear more sidewalks after a snowfall of five centimetres or more was moved by Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, who said it’s about “enabling our cities to be a place where our residents can thrive.”
She argued that the current rules, requiring residents to clear sidewalks around their properties within 24 hours after a snow event, are not working “consistently”.
The result, said Nann, is “shutting in seniors, people with disabilities, making our streets totally inaccessible for parents with strollers and households that do not have access to personal vehicles.”
Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins, however, said “it’s just not a service we can afford at this point in time.”
Collins also argued that many residents don’t have sidewalks, and “we’d essentially be charging people in certain neighbourhoods and streets who don’t have sidewalks for snow clearing” when they don’t receive the service.