Calgary

More than 2,000 warnings have been issued to Calgarians who haven't shovelled their sidewalks

New fines introduced by the city late last year were meant to penalize those who don't clear snowy or icy sidewalks — and so far, more than 2,000 warnings have been issued, according to a city spokesperson.

Hefty fines were introduced in late 2019 for those who neglect to clear ice and snow

Calgary property owners are required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall ending. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

New fines introduced by the city late last year were meant to penalize those who don't clear snowy or icy sidewalks — and so far, more than 2,000 warnings have been issued, according to a city spokesperson.

Under the bylaw, property owners are required to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks down to a bare surface within 24 hours of a snowfall ending.

Brad Johnson, an inspector with the City of Calgary, said the bylaw was not intended to create a fear of being fined.

"It's all about safety, making sure people clear their sidewalks appropriately," he said. "We're really after the people who are chronically not clearing their sidewalks. We're talking businesses, property owners, landlords.

"That's where we get slips and falls, where people get injured."

Brad Johnson, an inspector with the City of Calgary, said the focus of the new bylaw is to ensure public sidewalks remain safe. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Those who do not clear snow and ice will receive a bill from the city that covers the costs of clearing the sidewalk, Johnson said, which will run at least $150, plus GST and an administrative fee.

Johnson said there are other charges on top of clean-up fees, assessed on a case-by-case basis:

  • $250 for a first offence.
  • $500 for a second offence.
  • $750 for a third offence, and each offence after that for a year.

Repeat offenders can also face a court appearance.

"We give a 24-hour notice to get that sidewalk clear, then we recheck it. We leave a phone number on that notice," Johnson said. "[Sometimes] there are circumstances that arise. Every situation is unique that an officer deals with. We just have to work with what we've got."

Jean Gantz, 69, said it can be scary walking to the bus if sidewalks haven't been shovelled. She said she allows herself extra time after a fresh snowfall, and if sidewalks haven't been cleared, she "goes slow and walks like a penguin." (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Though 2,000 warnings have been handed out, Johnson said only six tickets have been issued to "chronic" offenders in cases with safety implications.

Other citizens have been given more time to deal with warnings, Johnson said.

"Could it be that the situation is severe enough, or [considering] the history of the property, that they might get that ticket right away? Of course," he said. "But we always try to work with the citizen as much as possible. 

"That's what we are here for, to make sure that compliance is achieved. We don't want to do that through fines."

With files from Terri Trembath and Sarah Rieger

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