Kitchener puts off winter sidewalk clearing review

Kitchener city council has deferred the majority of a staff report that recommended snow clearing pilot projects for the 2018-19 winter. A member of the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group (TriTAG) says of the decision, 'Our fears were realized.'

'We will remember come election time,' Mike Boos of TriTAG tweeted

Kitchener city council has deferred the majority of a staff report that recommended snow clearing pilot projects for the 2018-19 winter. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

Kitchener councillors voted against moving forward with a winter sidewalk clearing review that would see the city pay for snow clearing in one neigbourhood and sensors to monitor conditions for the upcoming winter.

The staff recommended review would have piloted a few options for snow clearing. The review had been approved by the city's community and infrastructure services committee.

But on Monday night in a 7-4 vote, Kitchener city council voted to defer much of the review.

Some of the recommendations from staff included:

  • Component A: Having a dedicated enforcement officer conducting sidewalk inspections between November and April to make sure snow is being cleared.
  • Component B: The city would clear snow from all sidewalks after a snow event when 8 cm or more falls within a 24 hour period.
  • Component C: Designate an area of the city where there's 40 km of sidewalk and clear all the snow after every snowfall.
  • Component D: Install sensors stations that can measure pavement surface conditions.
  • Component E: Explore partnerships with community groups — such as The Working Centre — to help those who are unable to clear their own sidewalks.

Kitchener city council agreed to move forward with having a dedicated enforcement officer to inspect sidewalks.

Council also voted in favour of providing partnership grants to community groups to help residents who require assistance in clearing their sidewalks, specifically individuals with a disability and seniors who can't afford private snow clearing services.

The other parts of the review were deferred until May 2019, which is when staff is expected to report back about results of having the enforcement officer on the streets.

The decision was criticized by Mike Boos with the group TriTAG (Tri-Cities Transport Action Group) on Twitter Tuesday morning.

"Our fears were realized," he tweeted.

Boos told CBC News he was in favour of the city's review and was disappointed with council's decision to defer a bulk of the review until next year.

"We are in a city with 1,200 kilometres of side walk," he said. "Small measures are only going to make small impacts on a sidewalk network that large." 

How they voted

Here is how Kitchener councillors voted on the recommendations.

On the vote to defer components B, C and D

  • In favour: Dave Schnider (Ward 2), Zyg Janecki (Ward 8), Kelly Galloway-Sealock (Ward 5), Scott Davey (Ward 1), Bil Ioannidis (Ward 7), Frank Etherington (Ward 9), Paul Singh (Ward 6).
  • Opposed: Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Sarah Marsh (Ward 10), John Gazzola (Ward 3), Yvonne Fernandes (Ward 4).

On the vote to move forward with component A

  • In favour: Schnider, Janecki, Galloway-Sealock, Davey, Ioannidis, Etherington, Singh, Vrbanovic, March, Fernandes.
  • Opposed: Gazzola.

On the vote to move forward with component E

  • In favour: Schnider, Janecki, Galloway-Sealock, Davey, Ioannidis, Etherington, Singh, Vrbanovic, March, Fernandes.
  • Opposed: Gazzola.