Sidewalk winter maintenance

When it's snowing and the weather forecast predicts a big snowfall, City of Kitchener operations staff move into action. The city clears snow and ice from the roads and sidewalks around city-owned facilities, walkways and parks. Kitchener residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around their property.

New for the 2018/2019 winter season, bylaw officers will be proactively inspecting sidewalks citywide. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice, a bylaw officer will issue a one-time notice to the property owner 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 property owner will be charged for the completion of this work. The average cost of clearing is approximately $280 but it depends on the size of your lot, amount of snow and time it takes the contractor to remove it.

Unshoveled sidewalks can create barriers for people who are walking, older adults with mobility devices, parents with strollers and people with mobility issues. By working together, we can give residents safe and accessible transportation routes to get where they need to go. View more information.

When it's snowing and the weather forecast predicts a big snowfall, City of Kitchener operations staff move into action. The city clears snow and ice from the roads and sidewalks around city-owned facilities, walkways and parks. Kitchener residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around their property.

New for the 2018/2019 winter season, bylaw officers will be proactively inspecting sidewalks citywide. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice, a bylaw officer will issue a one-time notice to the property owner 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 property owner will be charged for the completion of this work. The average cost of clearing is approximately $280 but it depends on the size of your lot, amount of snow and time it takes the contractor to remove it.

Unshoveled sidewalks can create barriers for people who are walking, older adults with mobility devices, parents with strollers and people with mobility issues. By working together, we can give residents safe and accessible transportation routes to get where they need to go. View more information.

Please provide your comments on the proactive bylaw enforcement program.

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Sidewalk clearing needs to be a City responsibility as it benefits EVERYONE in the city as we are all pedestrians at some point in our journeys.

All it takes is for one one property owner not to clear their property to completely block your journey. We are only as accessible as our iciest/snowiest sidewalk. Plus, there is a tidal wave of older adults crossing over in to senior adulthood who probably don't even know how much they will appreciate this service in a few short years' time.

If Kitchener is going to pay a by-law officer to drive around and proactively look for uncleared sidewalks why not instead pay a snow plow operator to drive around and actually clear the sidewalks. Talk about a waste of time, fuel (greenhouse gases), and effort (e.g. writing the warning, coming back to write the ticket, sending out a crew to clear). Also, there are so many other resources and money be used to defend the status quo (promotional material costs, by-law enforcement, snow-angel program, neighbourhood snow-blowers, overhead administration, staff time, etc.) that could be directed to actually clearing the sidewalks.

Travelling at 10kph it would take 5 sidewalk plows just under 24 hours to drive the 1,173 km of sidewalk in Kitchener.

If the city is going to continue with the tattletaling system I really wish they would just add a faster/simpler way to report (e.g. via the PingStreet app, or email, or Twitter, or shorter phone experience). Residents are already inconvenienced by uncleared sidewalks, don’t inconvenience them further by making the reporting of such sidewalks more difficult.

The City’s last estimate for sidewalk snow removal was about $26 per property owner (try getting a neighbourhood teenager to clear your sidewalk for $26 for an entire winter). Even at a minimum wage of $14 once a home owner spends more than 2 hours a winter clearing snow the City sidewalk clearing becomes the cheaper option. And given that we get an average of 12 snowfalls of greater than 5cm per season, and many more dustings in between, (compliant) property owners easily spend much more than two hours per winter clearing snow.

Not paying to have the City clear sidewalks only means that we have higher other costs such as increased hospitalizations and emergency visits for falls on snow and ice.

I think change to this policy would come much faster if, upon taking office, all councillors were required to surrender their cars and walk all winter (and ride their bikes in sharrow bike lanes the rest of the year).

If we as a community support snow clearing in principle then we need to decide how to best plow for ALL modes of transportation in a reasonable time frame. If we decide we don’t support snow clearing as a community then we should immediately sell the snow plows and salters, and everyone, no matter their mode, can struggle through winters. Otherwise it is discrimination by mode; mode-ism.

I hope that when City cleared sidewalks are a reality that the city will use plows with blades on the front and brushes on the back to reduce the amount of salt used.

Pheidippides 3 days ago

TL;DR - Sidewalks need to be clear during the winter and not a hazard, whichever way that can happen. I'm happy the city is trying something different.

I am frankly dumbfounded that, as citizens, we find it acceptable that our roads are cleared better than sidewalks. You know, must ensure cars with tires don't have any problems. When it is safer for me to walk on the road than a sidewalk then something is wrong.

For all those that complain that it's unfair to expect elderly to shovel sidewalks - do you think it is unfair some elderly people cannot even fathom walking in the winter for fear of slipping and breaking a bone?

I am biased, I walk a 5-6km around my community each day and it is just disgusting how some people view sidewalk clearing. People will clear a path from their house to their car but have no regard for the sidewalk.

At the end of the day, I don't care if it is through STRONG enforcement or city provided services, by RAISING taxes, residents of Kitchener deserve to be able to walk.

NotJustAnotherPaul 3 days ago

I believe sidewalk clearing should be rolled into City of Kitchener's services. The city owns the sidewalks and everyone has a right to move around the city unencumbered.

TaniaB 7 days ago

One big problem now is because we have not had big storms people think they don't have to clean sidewalk. The problem it warms a bit the snow starts melting then gets cold and turns to ice, it is actually more dangerous than a lot of snow. And because about 1/2 of the owners do not clean side walk , it makes the whole street dangerous if there is a bit of new snow and you cant see where the ice is. I don't understand with the new bylaw officers they cant patrol streets

Diggerjim 8 days ago

I disagree with the present approach to sidewalk clearing. I would like to see the small tax increase for the city to clear all sidewalks like in other cities. This will allow seniors to stay in their houses longer as well as being accessible to everyone.

Michie 8 days ago

There are many very dangerous locations on Sugar Maple St. (particularly at the south end) where ice accumulates due to overworked sump pumps. This is an unmanageable problem for home owners, in many cases, due to the low elevation of the street. C of K should identify these locations and provide direct drainage into the storm drains. Salt is not the answer and the ice buildup presents a serious hazard on both sidewalks and roads. Still several homes in the area where they simply will not clear their sidewalks.

Lloyd 10 days ago

The bylaw is toothless to begin with, enforcing a useless bylaw will obviously be useless. It doesn't require any snow removal until snow ceases for 24 hours straight. In the winter, it snows every day for a week or more many times...sidewalks continue to be blocked all winter. Anyone who was honest with themselves knew this would be the outcome.

danbrotherston 13 days ago

This is something the City ought to be responsible for. Making the residents responsible for sidewalk clearing by way of fines only harms vulnerable people in Kitchener. I'm a disabled person; clear sidewalks are the difference between going out or not in the winter, but I would not be physically able to do the clearing, and I'm on a fixed income. Creating penalties for marginalized people is a not a step forward.

ursine 18 days ago

I am a 79 year old woman with a heart condition living alone. Please, please, please raise my taxes and have the city clear my sidewalk. It belongs to them and I never use it. In 2014, I decided it was time for someone else to do the shoveling so I signed an agreement with a company called Property Connect. It cost me $400 and they did it 3 times before they skipped out, my money and that of many more people between here and Ottawa in tow. Since then, I have been struggling on my own. Occasionally I would like to go on a little holiday but the worry is always there that it will snow while I am away.
mlynn

mlynn 30 days ago

If it cost too much to provide shoveling for everyone why did I see city side walk plows driving around on the side walks & roads on Dec 13 when there was no snow or ice. This is a big waste of money for fuel and wear and tear on the machines. These units and their drivers should not be sent out without confirmation they are needed, get the new by law officers to go out and access the conditions of the city owned portion of the sidewalks instead of picking on the tax payers.

ward about 1 month ago

I'm opposed to this punitive approach by the City of Kitchener, which likes to view itself as a progressive, caring community. I think this heavy handed approach to force residents to clear the City's property is unfair to the elderly, many of whom have health conditions that prevent them from shoveling snow. Also, many younger workers are away from home for 12 hours or more per day, commuting to work outside of the region, perhaps two hours each way. This gives them approximately 12 hours at home, the majority of which is spent sleeping. 24 hours is not a long time to accomplish this task. The fine of $400 also seems excessive. I pay a snow clearing service $450/year to clear my double driveway and public sidewalk. With respect to the tax hike required if the City undertook to clear the snow from it's own property, all Region of Waterloo residents pay approximately $25 per year to have the regional airport (which I am in favour of), despite the fact the vast majority of residents are not currently using it, due to its limited service. All residents make use of public sidewalks, so $40 or so per year to have them cleaned professionally seems reasonable, especially if we claim to want to be a "walkable" community, and encourage people to age in place. As our population ages, taking care of the city's property by clearing the sidewalks will become more impossible for more people, and the resulting heart attacks will definitely increase the usage of our hospital resources. Other cities of all sizes have been doing this task for their residents for years...i.e., Barrie, London, Ottawa, Orillia, to name a few.

Skating Mom about 1 month ago

We received a noticed by an enforcement officer on dec 10.
1. He put the wrong date on the notice, dec 9 - technically this notice should be voided. The officer's response to this was that his apple watch was not working and gave him the wrong date.
2. What are the measures you use to determine a snow and ice violation? Our side walk was clear with hardly any snow or ice and we still got a notice.
3. There was no snow or freezing rain within the 24 of the notice we received.
It seems ridiculous to receive a notice when the side walk was practically cleared of snow and ice. I understand if it just snowed or rained. Yes we would shovel and lay down salt.

Bm about 1 month ago

Having clear sidewalks and roads are incredibly important, but when this was discussed with the City, paying for bylaw officers to hand out tickets was not what people had in mind. My understanding was that the cost to add this to taxes was approximately $50/property annually. Considering the aging population and difficulties people are having making ends meet already, a minor increase in taxes to cover this program would be more appropriate.

AJohns72 about 2 months ago

When we, the residents, asked the city to solve the sidewalk snow problem, more bylaw enforcement was not the desired outcome. Those that can shovel the side walks, or that can afford to pay somebody to do it, do so already. Those that cannot afford to pay for snow removal service, now face additional fines, dressed as cost of clearing.

If nothing else, the city should use its bargaining and buying power to drive the snow removal costs down from the $280 (?!), down to something reasonable. If the point is to remove snow, not to punish home-owners, we should be able to do better.

Chuck79 about 2 months ago

I live near a school and there are a lot of elderly in the neighbourhood as well. When there's a big snow fall, the kids may well trampled all the snow before anybody gets to it. The side walks are uneven because not everyone can get to it at the same time, which is a bigger hazard than unshovelled sidewalks. The pilot program for city shovelling should have gone ahead. I'd rather pay extra taxes for city shovelling than for a bylaw officer to snitch on neighbours.

lilsp about 2 months ago

I have a son who uses a wheelchair and travelling on city sidewalks in the winter is often a challenge. One of the biggest challenges, beyond timely snow removal, is the piles of snow left by the city or private snow removal companies at the curbs at intersections. These are impossible to get over with a wheelchair. So while the sidewalks may be cleared and navigatable, the intersections are not. I would also like to comment on my disappointment that the city did not take on snow removal as there are many, many citizens to whom this is an issue. We often can not go out for walks in the winter due to the inadequate clearing of snow and ice.

Kathy about 2 months ago

I live in Kitchener (Forest Heights). We always shovel our sidewalk, and contract with a neighbor when we’re away. We walk pretty much every day, and have lots of neighbors who do as well, so it’s important to us to have shoveled sidewalks. Our problem is not neighbors not shoveling the sidewalks — it’s the city. There have been 3 houses on our street demolished this fall. There are no occupancy permits, no one lives there. Who is supposed to shovel the sidewalk in front of those 3 properties? We’ve sent emails to our mayor and councilor, but no one seems to know who is going to be responsible for those sections of sidewalk.

Joantcanuck about 2 months ago

I agree with shovelling your own sidewalk if you are able, but the idea of getting it all down to the cement is ridiculous. A hard backed snow is just as negotiable or more than an frozen icy cement side walk. If you work and try to shovel at the end of the day it gets packed down during the day by all the traffic (kids going to school). This makes it almost impossible to get down to the cement without a lot of salt which we as citizens are told to use sparingly but the city dumps it on their sidewalks like it is doing a favour to the environment.
Change the bylaw to state the sidewalks to be negotiable not down to the cement

ward about 2 months ago

Instead of spending money on enforcing this bylaw, I think it would be better spent on citywide clearing of sidewalks. There are many people for whom removal of snow is a burden, and placing a financial burden on top of it is not fair or sustainable. Especially on days when the street snow removal dumps enormous piles at the end of driveways. It would be a better investment of resources to have a coordinated effort between street and sidewalk snow removal from the city so that everyone can safely exit their homes.

zabethob about 2 months ago

In a home converted to several apartments who is responsible for sidewalk maintenance? The landlord is insisting the tenants are responsible. Is this true?

JeffDTK about 2 months ago