Saskatchewan

Regina city council votes down motion for proposed sidewalk bylaw

Regina city council voted down a motion Monday for a proposed new bylaw which would have mandated sidewalks be cleared after snowfall.

Bylaw would have required residential sidewalks be cleared within 24 to 48 hours of snowfall

The motion for a proposed new bylaw study was defeated at Monday's city council meeting. (@sidewalksofyqr/Twitter)

Regina won't have clearer sidewalks any time soon after city council voted down a motion for a proposed new bylaw, which would have required residential sidewalks be cleared within 24 to 48 hours of snowfall. 

The motion, which was defeated 7 to 4 on Monday, would have brought to council a report about how implementation of the bylaw would work, taking into account the ability of people to clear their sidewalks. 

"At this point, I might actually be pushing administration to expand the sidewalk clearing that the city takes responsibility for," said Coun. Andrew Stevens Tuesday, adding that he is skeptical at the prospect of another Snowbuster-type program.

The Snowbuster program saw city residents shovel sidewalks on a volunteer basis with the aim of people helping others, similar to a pay-it-forward concept. Those who participated in the program had the opportunity to win a snowblower. The program was cut during the last municipal budget.

The city is responsible for clearing areas which receive heavy use, such as Albert Street, Broad Street or Saskatchewan Drive. Residential streets are the responsibility of the people living on those streets to clear, but the level of clearance in those areas is often inconsistent. 

City's data is faulty: Stevens

In the city's resistance to implementing an enforcement bylaw, it said clearance rates for residential sidewalks sat around 75 per cent, according to a 2012-2013 survey.

Stevens said that number is bunk, partly because he said it was derived using inconsistent methodologies. He thinks the clearance rate is between 20 and 30 per cent in some areas.

"The decision is the status quo is good enough — 'This is what works in our community' — and I find it quite offensive," Stevens said, adding it doesn't fulfil obligations to the city's transportation masterplan.

"This conversation has taken place over the last decade, it doesn't work and yet people still go back to it. I don't understand it."

Lack of bylaw 'baffling'

Delegate Wanda Schmockel also cast skepticism on the city's data. In some cases, sidewalks had up to two inches of snow still covering them but were counted among the cleared areas.

Schmockel criticized the method of data collection, saying it was arbitrary and should not have been cited. She noted that in other jurisdictions, bylaws which have enforcement as an option have been in place seemingly forever.

"I find it baffling that we're so far behind," Schmockel said.

"The argument that I've heard presented here: 'What about seniors, what about people who can't get out and shovel' — we're either concerned about them or we're not. If we're concerned about their safety out walking in the streets or out being in the streets however they get around, then we should be concerned enough to shovel."

Andrew Stevens, Lori Bresciani, Barbara Young and Joel Murray were the councillors who voted in favour of the motion.

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