Garneau gets most fines of any Edmonton neighbourhood for snowy sidewalks

The Garneau neighbourhood is falling down when it comes to keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. The city of Edmonton handed out 56 tickets to residents in the university area between Oct. 1 and Jan. 12, more than in any other neighbourhood.

'I just almost fell down coming out of my car, it’s kind of treacherous out here'

Garneau residents got a total of 56 fines for failing to clear snow and ice from sidewalks between Oct. 1 and Jan. 12, the city says.

The Garneau neighbourhood is falling down when it comes to keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

Of 260 tickets handed out across the city between Oct. 1 and Jan. 12 for failing to keep sidewalks clear, 56 went to residents of Garneau, near the University of Alberta main campus.

That compares to 15 of the $100 tickets in McKernan, 13 in Strathcona and fewer than 10 each in Westmount, Bonnie Doon, La Perle and South Terwillegar.

Thirty communities got only one ticket each, and many others didn't see any.

John Zilinski, a University of Alberta student, spends a lot of time walking around the Garneau area, going to cafes and shops.

"I just almost fell down coming out of my car, it's kind of treacherous out here," Zilinski said.

"I don't really see any concrete in the area, it's just all trampled down snow and ice."

Eric Adams, a professor at the University of Alberta,navigates the snow-covered sidewalks most days.

"On any stretch of sidewalk, you're going to encounter some pretty tough footing," Adams said.

Adams dresses for the weather, wearing proper winter boots. Still, he sympathizes with people who have mobility issues, the elderly and young kids.

"You see people slipping and trying to get around snow drifts, and it doesn't take you long to realize a lot of these sidewalks are difficult to pass."

Who's responsible?

The 260 tickets issued for snowy sidewalks between Oct. 1 and Jan. 12 compares to 437 during the same period of the previous winter.

But the numbers of slip-and-fall complaints is higher this winter: 70 so far, compared to 34 between October and early January last year.

Troy Courtoreille, coordinator of the general enforcement unit with the city's community standards branch, said it's the responsibility of homeowners and business owners to keep sidewalks clear.

The Garneau area is especially high in rental properties. The city says about 75 per cent of all private dwellings in Garneau are renter occupied, compared with the Edmonton average of 35 per cent.

"There's lots of tenant turnover due to the university and students and in our experience, renters just don't have that vested interest in stewardship in their own community," Courtoreille said.

The fine for neglecting to clear sidewalks adjacent to privately-owned properties is $100.

He suggested students may not be grasping the importance of clearing sidewalks for safety reasons.

People are given 48 hours to clear snow from sidewalks adjacent to their properties and if the city receives a complaint, it will be investigated.

The fine for not maintaining sidewalks in the winter is $100. It's the same rate, whether you own a home or a commercial property.

The city devotes extra enforcement to the Garneau area because of the high rate of complaints, Courtoreille added.

The Garneau community league participates in the city's recently expanded Snow Angels program, which encourages people to clear their sidewalks and then help neighbours with theirs. Those who do their part can be eligible to win Boston Pizza parties and Edmonton Oil Kings tickets.

Adams, who's lived in several winter cities including Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, says Edmonton's approach to snow clearing is flawed. He believes the city should be more involved.

Eric Adams believes the city should have a bigger role in clearing sidewalks.

"It might be costly to take that on but it's something increasingly the city's going to have to look at," he suggested.

"If they want to be a pedestrian city, they want to be a walkable city, they want to encourage people to be out and about and out of their cars, well, there are a lot of things the city's going to have to do to make that a reality for the people of Edmonton," he said.

"One of them is make it safe to walk around."