Sidewalk snow crews should use smaller plows, Halifax says

City officials have released a list of suggestions to minimize property damage from Bobcat snowplows after a winter that saw a 75 per cent increase in complaints from city residents.

Shovelling and salting will also reduce damage, report finds

Halifax fielded close to 900 calls reporting property damage by snow-clearing crews in 2014, nearly triple the 303 the city received last winter. (CBC)

The crews Halifax hires to clear its sidewalks should user smaller plows and break out the shovels once in a while, according to a report on how to reduce damage next winter. 

City officials released a list of suggestions after a winter that saw a 75 per cent increase in complaints from city residents.

It was the first time the city contracted out sidewalk snow plowing on residential streets on the Halifax peninsula.

Between Dec. 10 and Jan. 14, the city logged more than 1,500 complaints about sidewalk snow clearing. About half of those complaints came from three districts in the peninsula of Halifax, where snow clearing was introduced this winter.


The end-of-season report said given the ongoing concerns surrounding the new performance-based sidewalk contracts, HRM legal staff were consulted  “regarding the implications of potentially suspending the service and/or cancelling the contracts.”

However they found they did not have sufficient grounds to support any termination of the contracts.

Instead their recommendations are to:

  • Use smaller equipment
  • Identify areas where hand shovelling might be needed
  • Enhance anti-icing strategies (more salting and sanding) 
  • Increase supervision of new staff
  • Identify problem locations before the winter begins

The city said there are some other reasons for the property damage.

“A large part of that is also attributable to the fact that we had a far more severe winter than we've had in many years,” said Darrin Natolino, the acting superintendent with winter operations at HRM.

The city said it went through similar challenges when they started sidewalk plowing in other areas of the Halifax area. 

HRM staff will discuss the report with councillors on Wednesday.