Calgary

New sidewalk snow clearing fines to target 'repeat offenders' in Calgary

Calgarians and businesses that fail to shovel snow from their sidewalks can now be fined a fee ranging from $150 to $750.

Fees to range from $150 to $750, depending on how often pavement is left slippery

Calgary is slowly rolling out fines for so-called repeat offenders who fail to shovel their sidewalks.

Calgary residents and businesses can now be fined if they fail to shovel snow from their sidewalks.

The amount will increase the more often a sidewalk is left slippery, in an effort to target so-called "repeat offenders."

Sidewalk clearing has long been the responsibility of residents but the city has issued only warnings to enforce it — and occasionally a bill when city crews have to do the job themselves.

Now the city has the power to issue fines, starting at $150 and scaling up to $750.

"We have repeat offenders every year who wait for the city to do it for them. It's often commercial businesses and it's cheaper to actually have the city provide this service," Coun. Druh Farrell told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.

But that's about to change.

This coming winter, bylaw officers will continue to issue warnings and try to encourage shovelling through education. The following year, officers will issue fines for non-shovelling-residents as a reminder of their duty to the community.

City administration recommended residents be given a year to prepare for the new fines, Farrell said.

"We expect you to be a good neighbour," Farrell said. "The number of reported injuries is significant and some of those injuries are incredibly severe from slips and falls in the winter, and particularly the elderly, often resulting in broken hips, that kind of thing.

"That can lead to death, so what we're talking about is a life safety issue, as well as a comfort and social justice issue."

Council approved the change on Monday.

Calgarian Jan Repa shovelled snow "to make it easier for other wheelchairs" last winter. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The winter of 2017-2018 was especially hard with higher than normal levels of snow and few warm Chinook days to melt it. In fact, Calgary had continuous ground snow cover for more than two months.

People with mobility challenges spoke out to the media and to council about their experiences being stuck at home or being injured when venturing outside due to poor snow clearing.

The city will also apply the fines to itself, should snow clearing at  city properties not meet standards, Farrell said.

Putting all sidewalk clearing responsibilities on the city was also considered, she said, but that was rejected as "extremely expensive" and would have resulted in a "massive increase in property taxes."

"We need to rely on Calgarians to meet us halfway on this, and that means cleaning the sidewalks in front of your own property," Farrell said.

"Most people do this, but if you're in a wheelchair and there's one sidewalk that's just not cleared, it makes the whole trip inaccessible."

She noted that earlier this year, the city approved a sidewalk clearing budget increase of $9.5 million and a new strategy that prioritizes popular pathways and wheelchair ramps.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.

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