Austin Shillito

City serves notice that businesses must shovel their sidewalks

The City of Campbell River has issued warning notices to local businesses that they are required to shovel their sidewalks

The city has put local businesses on notice that they are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalks surrounding their buildings.

A week and a half after a significant snowfall buried Campbell River sidewalks, some businesses had yet to shovel them out. Another round of snow Sunday morning added to the headache.

“The city has been receiving complaints and we have been sending out notices reminding property owners of the requirements to remove snow and ice from sidewalks,” City Clerk Peter Wipper said. “We have yet to issue any tickets and are hopeful that the warning notices will be enough to remind property owners of their responsibilities. Of course, ticket violations in the amount of $100 are an option if required.”

Under the city’s Traffic and Highways Regulation Bylaw, the “owner or tenants of all commercial, industrial or institutional premises are required to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks abutting their premises by 10 a.m. on any day that the premise is open to the public.”

Wipper said that the city does understand that recent weather conditions, particularly freezing temperatures, have hampered snow removal efforts.

“We also recognize that the (Dec. 9-10) snowfall has been particularly challenging because of the amount of snow, followed by rain and freezing temperatures which has frozen the slush, making it very difficult to remove,” Wipper said.

But, Wipper said, snow removal still needs to be a priority in order to ensure the safety of residents traveling by foot.

“Our goal is public safety, and while city crews can take care of the roads, we request that property and business owners assist by clearing sidewalks so pedestrians have safe passage.”

That includes homeowners along residential streets, although, according to the city’s bylaw, “owners or residents of single or duplex residences are ‘requested’ to clear snow and ice abutting their premises” but they are not ‘required’ to as are business owners and managers and owners of multi-unit residential premises.

Neglected sidewalks have been an ongoing struggle for pedestrians.

This past February, resident Richard Boehm went before city council after he fell on two separate occasions while trying to navigate snowy, uncleared sidewalks three weeks after a major snowstorm last December.

And in 2014, council heard from a mother of two young children who said she was stranded in her Hilchey home following a bad snowstorm because the sidewalks were still impassable nearly one week later.

Coun. Larry Samson has long been an advocate for sidewalk snow removal, particularly along the busy streets.

“While I don’t expect that we clear all of the primary routes, I think that we should look at hitting some of the highlights like 2nd Avenue, Dogwood Street, Hilchey – these type of primary routes,” Samson said in February after hearing from Boehm. “Our transportation manager has said this will double our snow removal costs; I think we can do it more economically.”

That still remains to be seen. Council had made efforts to look into sidewalk snow removal in 2014 but during budget deliberations nixed buying a $75,000 machine that the city would require to do sidewalk clearing.

In the meantime, city council is expecting to receive a report from city staff in the new year, recapping the city’s snow and ice removal policy and outlining options for snow removal on sidewalks.