Have I always had to clear the sidewalks around my property?

Yes, under the city's bylaw residents have always been responsible for clearing sidewalks around their property within 24 hours after a snowfall. Bylaw officers inspect sidewalks on a complaint basis. 

New this year, along with our reactive bylaw enforcement program (responding to complaints), bylaw officers will also be proactively inspecting sidewalks citywide to ensure they are clear of snow and ice 24 hours after a snowfall.

How long do I have to clear the sidewalk before bylaw enforcement begins? How is it enforced?

You have 24 hours from when the snow stops falling. City bylaws require property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks around their property. 

Along with responding to complaints, bylaw officers will also be patrolling the city to inspect the conditions of sidewalks. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice after 24 hours of a snowfall, a bylaw officer will leave a one-time notice at the property and return within 24 hours. If the sidewalk has still not been adequately cleared, the city will arrange for a contractor to clear it and the owner or occupant will be charged for the completion of this work.

Why doesn't the city plow sidewalks?

Budget constraints do not provide sufficient resources to allow for this service. Also, according to a city report on winter sidewalk maintenance (2016), municipalities that implemented city-wide sidewalk snow-clearing identified that service levels are inconsistent, and sidewalks are maintained to snow-packed, not bare, conditions.

Staff took a report to council with snow removal options and proactive bylaw inspection is what council chose to implement for the 2018/2019 winter season. Our proactive bylaw officers will inspect and collect data on sidewalk conditions to help us assess the effectiveness of the program and we’ll report back to council in May 2019 to determine next steps. 

How much will I be charged for the city to remove snow and ice from my sidewalk?

The city will arrange for a contractor to remove snow and ice from unshovelled sidewalks. The average cost of clearing is approximately $280. It depends on the size of your lot, amount of snow and time it takes the contractor to remove it.The invoice will go to the property owner whether or not they live there. 

How do I report unshovelled sidewalks?

Call the Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345. When a complaint is received, staff will be sent out to inspect the sidewalk.

My sidewalk is covered in ice and is hard to clear. What should I do?

When snow or rain is in the forecast during the winter months try pretreating your sidewalk with salt or sand before the snow or rain falls. This will make it easier to remove and you will end up using less sand and salt then if you were to wait until the ice forms. 

Homeowners can pick up free sand for icy walks at the Kitchener Operations Facility, 131 Goodrich Dr., Kitchener (go to gates 3 & 4 off of Wabanaki Drive). 

What can you do to get people to shovel their sidewalks?

Every year, the city conducts an outreach campaign to let people know about their responsibility to remove snow and ice from sidewalks (according to city bylaws). To report unshovelled walks, call 519-741-2345. When a complaint is received, staff will inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. If the sidewalk is not cleared upon re-inspection, city staff will remove the snow and invoice the resident.

I am unable to clear my sidewalks. Who can help me?

There are agencies who provide snow removal to seniors or other individuals who are unable to clear their sidewalks. Fees may apply. Please call:

Contact your local high school to see if there are students who need volunteer hours and can help you through the winter, talk to your neighbours for assistance or hire a contractor.

The city has also created a Snow Angel program to recognize those who help their neighbours clear their sidewalks. Learn more about the program or nominate a Snow Angel who has cleared your sidewalk.

Why do plows go so fast and throw snow on my sidewalk?

Sorry! There is no practical way to avoid pushing snow into driveway entrances during plowing operations. To avoid additional work, we suggest you delay clearing your driveway entrance until your street is cleared full width.

Plows must maintain a minimum speed to throw snow off to the side. Some sidewalks are very close to the curb and it is difficult to avoid getting snow on them. Please call 519-741-2345 to report these situations and we may remove the snow.

What about bus stops, or fire hydrants, or mailboxes? Who is responsible for clearing snow around those?

If you see that the hydrant closest to your home is buried by drifts or snowbanks, please dig it out or call the Kitchener Fire Department at 519-741-2582 or City of Kitchener at 519-741-2529 and select option #3.

Mail boxes: Please call Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177.

Bus stops: All inquiries should be directed to the Region – Grand River Transit 519-585-7555.