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City’s lack of snow clearing frustrates pedestrian

Nearly one week after the city’s most recent snowstorm, Angela Macauley was dismayed to find the sidewalks still impassable.

Macauley, who lives on Hilchey Road, said the sidewalks along her street were covered in patchy ice and snow, making it difficult and treacherous for her to get around following a significant Sunday snowfall.

“I have two young children and must walk to most of my appointments using the sidewalk and a stroller,” Macauley told city council at its meeting Tuesday night. “The sidewalks remained a mess and were still snow-covered, slippery, and impassable by Thursday afternoon.”

Macauley said several people were left with no choice but to avoid the sidewalks.

“Pedestrians were forced to walk on the road even though it had stopped snowing by Monday night,” Macauley said. “Only one or two people on the entire road felt obligated to clear the snow from the sidewalk in front of their homes.

“Even the bus stop was an uneven mess of snow and ice,” Macauley added.

The young mother said after a week had passed she called the city bylaw officer to ask that he respectfully request that residents clear their sidewalks.

She was told that the city’s hands were tied because Campbell River’s city bylaw requests, not requires, that residents clear the sidewalks in front of their homes.

Macauley said the bylaw poses problems for the city.

“This is a safety issue for anyone using the sidewalks and it is unfair and unreasonable to expect pedestrians to just stay home until the snow melts,” Macauley said. “This is also a liability issue. I consulted a lawyer who advised that because the bylaw only requests, not requires, citizens to remove snow from the sidewalks surrounding their residence that ultimately the city is responsible for any injuries resulting from a fall from an uncleared sidewalk.”

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said the city does clear sidewalks but only in certain areas.

“The sidewalk work our forces do is primarily limited to sidewalks in front of city-owned properties or facilities,” said Neufeld who confirmed that the city does not require, but encourages, citizens to clear snow from sidewalks surrounding their home.

Macauley asked council if it could consider either changing the bylaw to require that residents clear the sidewalks surrounding their property, or have the city take responsibility for clearing snow from all of its sidewalks.

Macauley noted that the city of Vancouver requires all residents to clear the full width of the sidewalk surrounding their property by 10 a.m. the morning after a snowfall seven days a week.

Coun. Ryan Mennie said while he could sympathize with Macauley, he wasn’t sure it was reasonable to require that residents clear the sidewalks.

“I’ve got two frontages to clear and as a younger citizen in the area I know some folks would probably have some issues clearing the snow,” Mennie said. “But I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ve got small children and I walk my daughter to a school that’s in the area and I found it quite difficult to do so.”

Coun. Andy Adams also understand Macauley’s plight and promised to look into the issue.

“Thankfully we don’t have this problem very often but when we do it is a problem,” Adams said. “I want to thank the delegation (Macauley) for bringing this anomaly forward and we’ll look into it and see about standardizing the bylaw.”

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