Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's city council cool to heated sidewalks

Research done by the city suggests the costs outweigh the benefits of having heated sidewalks in St. John's.

Coun. Sandy Hickman says the costs outweigh the benefits

Coun. Sandy Hickman, chair of the City of St. John's traffic committee, says heated sidewalks aren't economically feasible. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Research done by St. John's city staff says the cost of installing heated sidewalks in St. John's would exceed any benefits.

The idea was pitched by Coun. Sandy Hickman in January 2019, when he asked city staff to tally up the price of running heated coils and tubes along two blocks of Water Street to help with snow and ice clearing in winter months.

"The research was done," Hickman said. "It's come back that it would be quite expensive, [to] both install and operate. So I'm quite sure it won't be going forward."

According to the report, published on the city's website, the cost to operate an electric system of heated sidewalks would have an initial cost of over $1.5 million, with electricity costing about $69,000 a year. The numbers are based on the city having an average of 78 snow days, with the electric system operating 12 hours a day.

The report also considers challenges associated with putting a snow-melting system on Water Street. Challenges include a limited amount of space to install equipment, and that snow-melting systems aren't designed to melt thick layers of snow.

Hickman said council looked into different possible systems that could be used to enhance sidewalk safety in the city.

"We [now] have more information than we had before," Hickman said.

Hickman said he supports the decision in the city staff report, which says to not move forward with the project. However, he's still interested in the idea.

"If this is something that was affordable, I could certainly see the two or three main streets downtown, and possibly Churchill Square," Hickman said. "As that rejuvenates, it would be opportune for that area to have a good look at.

"But the costs outweigh the benefits.… It doesn't look like that makes any sense at this point."

The report will be brought to a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Stephen Miller

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