News / Calgary

Druh Farrell to push for better Calgary sidewalk clearing

Councillor wants city to bring in fines for those who don't shovel

Calgary Coun. Druh Farrell wants to put some teeth to the city's snow clearing bylaw when it comes to compliance on clearing sidewalks.

Jennifer Friesen / Calgary Freelance

Calgary Coun. Druh Farrell wants to put some teeth to the city's snow clearing bylaw when it comes to compliance on clearing sidewalks.

Coun. Druh Farrell says she'll be leading the charge on getting people to shovel their gosh darn sidewalks in a timely fashion.

"I'm seeking improvement," said Farrell. "We really couldn't do much worse."

She said the notice of motion, which should be tabled on Jan. 29, will look at several issues.

Number one is improving compliance from property owners who aren't shovelling within 24 hours of the snowfall.

"Right now we don't have a fine, and we should be looking at a fine," said Farrell. "Too frequently we wait for a Chinook to do the work."

Homeowners can be billed for labour if a city of Calgary crew ends up clearing their sidewalk, but otherwise the bylaw lacks teeth.

She wants to explore if it would be possible for the city to follow its own bylaws in terms of cleaning sidewalks on city property within 24 hours. Further, she'd like improvements to the 311 reporting service, because it allows for complaints about roads, but not sidewalks.

Farrell said we spend about about $2.5 million annually on clearing city sidewalks, while Ottawa – a slightly smaller city – spends $8.7 million.

"We have more slips and falls than any other province in Canada except Saskatchewan," said Farrell. "So there is a cost associated in it."

Kirk Reynolds, Calgary COO with Spinal Cord Injury Alberta, said all Calgarians should be able to get behind changes that allow people to lead a more inclusive and accessible life.

"I think that if Druh wants to lead that, our clients and our organization would firmly stand behind her."

Reynolds said some communities are better than others in keeping sidewalks accessible.

"It's not unlike a lot of things within in the city. You'll find pockets that have really good cleaning and accessibility, and everybody kind of helps everyone out. And then you'll find people that are challenged and struggle with it."

Stewart Midwinter, a wheelchair user and accessibility advocate, said it only takes one person on a block not shovelling to make the entire pathway inaccessible for people with mobility issues.

He said many homeowners also neglect to shovel the curb cut, or the laneway entrance if their property is adjacent.

"Without a system-wide solution, it will continue to be a patchwork quilt," said Midwinter.

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