Winnipeggers frustrated with yard damage from snow plows

Some Winnipeg homeowners say the snow plows on their streets are clearing more than just snow — they're damaging people's front yards as well.
Some Winnipeg homeowners say the snow plows on their streets are clearing more than just snow — they're damaging people's front yards as well. 2:03

Some Winnipeg homeowners say the snow plows on their streets are clearing more than just snow — they're damaging people's front yards as well.

Several residents in the city's Sage Creek neighbourhood say plows have torn out chunks of their lawns and caused other damage to their yards.

Sean Chen points at a tree in his yard that he says has been buried in snow by plows. He said he's not sure if the tree will survive. (Jill Coubrough/CBC)
Sean Chen said plows have buried a tree in his front yard, torn up sod, and even pushed his garbage bins into a snowbank.

"Yeah, they are helping out. They are, you know, cleaning the street. But they can't just cause … damages to all the neighbourhood," he said.

Another area homeowner, Chen Wang, said plows have chewed up his landscaping four times this winter.

"This time it's really severe damage," Wang said.

"My sod was pulled out, you know, like, my decorative stones [were] sprayed on the driveway, and landscaping edging was dig out as well…. It's quite frustrating, right?"

Both Chen and Wang said they have called the city's 311 hotline, but they have found it difficult to report the damage.

City responds

The City of Winnipeg says residents who encounter damage to private property can file a claim by calling 311, but they should also contact their insurance company, as they may be eligible for coverage under their home insurance depending on the damage.

Marissa Horner told CBC News that snow plows smashed her gate and fence about a month and a half ago, and nothing has been done about it. This sign was posted on the gate to 'thank' snow-clearing crews. (Marissa Horner/Twitter)
A city spokesperson says staff only respond to claims when damage "results from improper or negligent handling of equipment or inadequate or improper equipment or procedures."

That means the city won't respond to damages resulting from the weight of the snow, or damages to property encroaching into the city's right of way.

The city says more than 310 damage claims related to residential snow clearing have been submitted by citizens between Oct. 1, 2013, and Feb. 15.

That's fewer than last winter, when it received 433 claims from Oct. 1, 2012 to Feb. 15, 2013.

However, officials did not say how many of those claims were approved, nor did they say how much, if any, compensation was provided.

Tall snow piles concern residents

The city lifted its residential parking ban on Monday evening, as plows continue to clear streets following some recent snowfall.

But a number of residents have complained of tall piles of snow being formed by the plows, including a four-metre high pile Reg Cassie found in front of his North End home.

Cassie said he knows the snow has to go somewhere, but he was worried about the reduced visibility drivers face at the intersection in front of his house.

"One of these days, here in this corner, there's going to be an accident," he said.

"A lot of people don't stop at intersections, as you know — they just cruise up, go straight through."

But another resident, Joyce Harris, had praise for the snow plow operators — including one that she flagged down on Monday morning.

"I said, 'I could never lift that block of ice, would you be so kind as to push it away where I've shovelled so I don't have to lift it?' He said, 'Certainly.' He was very obliging," she said.

Harris added that the snow plow also did a second pass, clearing her neighbour's snow pile.


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