If passed, effective Jan. 1, 2022, homeowners who live next to a sidewalk will be required to clear all snow and ice from that walk within 48 hours from snowfall.
Currently, all owners of commercial property, parking lots and apartment buildings are required to clear sidewalks within 24 to 48 hours from snowfall.
The city hopes this change will create more walk-friendly and mobility-friendly neighbourhoods.
“Residents may be motivated to walk or utilize public transit more due to improved sidewalk accessibility, thereby reducing the dependence on cars and trucks for mobility around the community,” a city report stated.
The Snow Angels program will be available to help residents with physical challenges who cannot clear their walkways on their own.
Property owners will face fines of $100 plus the cost of clearing the snow if they fail to comply with the bylaw.
City administration requested $510,000 be provided in the 2022 budget to hire three additional bylaw officers, and fund one administrative bylaw position and a position in the city’s legal services branch.
“Feedback from the survey and Service Requests suggest that residents want to see increased and consistent sidewalk clearing efforts in our community and favour an approach that includes enforcement options,” the city said.
Other cities, like Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton, have similar bylaws.
Ward 2 Coun. Bob Hawkins said sidewalks not being cleared has been an issue since he’s been on council for the last eight years.
“It’s frequently the subject of service requests where people who have snow on their sidewalks or in their neighbourhoods phone the city and ask what can be done about that,” Hawkins told Global News.
Hawkins said during his time as a city councillor, he’s heard many residents who are concerned they can’t get around during the winter, especially those who are elderly or have mobility issues.
Hawkins added that he thinks the city can handle enforcement with existing bylaw officers and other staff.
“I also think that almost all citizens will voluntary or will of their own accord clear their sidewalks,” he said.
“I do not think enforcement will be a difficult problem here. I don’t think it’s the issue. I think the issue is making sure our sidewalks are clear so that seniors (and) people with physical challenges, visitors to the city, people who just want to get out and walk in COVID times during the winter, all of those people can do so safely,” Hawkins added.
While he was disappointed the motion was tabled at the Sept. 29 council meeting, Hawkins is hopeful it will be passed at Wednesday’s meeting.
Hawkins added that relatives, and kids in the community can help seniors or others who can’t shovel their sidewalks, as well as the snow angels program.
“Nobody expects a senior citizen who is unable to clear his or her sidewalk to get out and do that. There will be ways to handle that program,” Hawkins said.