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Edmonton reviewing Supreme Court ruling allowing citizens to sue cities if injured in icy falls

Click to play video: 'Could Edmontonians sue the city if injured on icy sidewalk?' Could Edmontonians sue the city if injured on icy sidewalk?
A Supreme Court of Canada decision now allows Canadians to sue cities over injuries linked to bad snow clearing. Chris Chacon has more on what could this mean for the city of Edmonton and for those who get injured on a roadway or sidewalk – Oct 22, 2021

Winter is fast approaching and it won’t be long until people have to navigate sidewalks and roads covered in snow and ice.

Edmontonians are very familiar with snow, but a new Supreme Court of Canada decision has changed what snow could mean to many residents.

Read more: Supreme Court of Canada sides with injured woman in B.C. snow clearing squabble

“It’s opened the door for more municipalities to be sued by people that are injured on roadways or sidewalks,” said T.J. Jomha, injury lawyer and owner of Jomha Law Office.

Before this decision, Canadians couldn’t sue the city if they were hurt on poorly maintained city property, but they can now.

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians grapple with dangerously icy roads and sidewalks' Edmontonians grapple with dangerously icy roads and sidewalks
Edmontonians grapple with dangerously icy roads and sidewalks – Feb 14, 2018

Still, it doesn’t mean they’ll win but citizens can still go to court.

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Jomha said the decision doesn’t mean cities are liable for policy decisions such as how much to plow or where, but they could be liable if those plans aren’t carried out as promised.

He adds this decision could be devastating for cash-strapped municipalities hit hard by COVID-19.

“It could really affect the budgets of cities if they have to deal with not only making payments but dealing with the actual litigation process,” Jomha said.

Read more: Sidewalk clearing complaints down in Edmonton; Garneau top ticketed neighbourhood

Jomha said it could bring a flood of lawsuits, possibly costing the city big bucks on top of the millions already spent on snow removal each year.

While this could be a boost in business for many lawyers like him, Jomha said he disagrees with this ruling.

In a statement to Global News, the City of Edmonton said:

“We will be reviewing yesterday’s Supreme Court decision and our policies. At this time, we don’t have further information about changes or influence on our current snow and ice control policy and procedure.”

Jomha said the outcome could actually mean lower standards that are easier for crews to achieve, which could make winter sidewalks and roads even more treacherous.

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Click to play video: 'Winter-related slips and falls rise in Edmonton' Winter-related slips and falls rise in Edmonton
Winter-related slips and falls rise in Edmonton – Jan 13, 2017

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