Sidewalk snow clearing proves challenging

Making people clear sidewalks hasn’t proven to be easy.

Vernon council was told by staff Monday that there are several cases where residents have not shovelled snow from city sidewalks adjacent to their property.

“Further compliance may be necessary to ensure the safe passage for students and the public on sidewalks bordering private property,” says a memo.

This comes despite notices being sent to property owners in September and further correspondence after Christmas when complaints about sidewalk conditions were received.

Among the problem areas are Pottery Road, Turtle Mountain and the Foothills.

The situation arose after the city eliminated clearing snow from sidewalks in the 2013 budget and passed the responsibility on to adjacent property owners.

“I knew it would come back to haunt us in terms of seniors not easily getting around,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe, adding that the policy ignores the fact that some stretches of sidewalk may be along private property but they are remote from the house.

“I can be hard for them to get to it.”

In 2012/13, the city budgeted $20,000 for keeping remote sidewalks clear, but $50,000 was spent because of excessive snowfall. About $40,000 would be needed for 2014 if council approved city snow removal.

But Coun. Juliette Cunningham says there may be another option.

“Some may be willing to pay more,” she said of residents being charged a fee for the city to remove the snow from sidewalks along their property.

Staff has been directed to bring back options for possible fees.

Because of the recent weather conditions that have caused icy conditions, the city is providing sand at no cost for private sidewalks, walkways and driveways.

Vernon residents should bring their own bucket and shovel to access the sand, which is located outside of the gates at the public works yard at 1900 48th Ave.


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