The tenacity of sidewalk snow-clearing advocates has finally paid off.
After several debates, Hamilton city council has approved a plan to clear an additional 783 km of sidewalk along transit routes.
The service will be contracted out by the city’s public works department, starting in the winter of 2022/2023, and staff will next report back with an implementation plan.
Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson’s enhanced sidewalk snow-clearing motion was approved by city council in a 9-6 vote on Wednesday afternoon, one week after the public works committee defeated the same motion, 6-4.
The added cost is expected to be $2.3 million, or $12 annually per household.
Coun. Wilson says clearing sidewalks of snow is about “equity” and ensuring that the city remains accessible to all residents.
“What are we doing as a city to service our seniors, and support their efforts to age successfully?” Wilson asked. “After all, that is the city’s official vision.”
She has presented statistics showing that between 2016 and 2018, there were over 12,000 emergency department visits and 1,100 hospitalizations among Hamiltonians from falls on snow and ice, and “older Hamiltonians were particularly vulnerable.”
Several councillors who voted against the service enhancement have voiced worries about public expectation, noting that sidewalk snow-clearing will not be triggered until there has been five cm or more in snowfall.
“I can’t imagine the phone calls that would be coming into our offices,” says Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge, “when the snow has stopped and the machines are not out there clearing the sidewalks.”