City council stands behind sidewalk snow removal policy

It may continue to snow and snow, but Lacombe residents will still have to risk receiving a ticket if they do not remove the snow

It may continue to snow and snow, but Lacombe residents will still have to risk receiving a ticket if they do not remove the snow off their walk within the 48- hour period.

The topic of sidewalk snow removal was up for debate in council during a regular meeting on Feb. 9th. Council returned to the topic, discussing if the current $100 fine attached to sidewalk snow removal violations should be kept or eliminated completely.

Director of Corporate Services Michael Minchin told council City employees have been out twice this year to enforce the ice and snow removal bylaw.

“We looked at 2,500 to 2,800 properties over a two and half day time period,” said Minchin.

Out of those thousands of properties, 93 violation tickets were handed out.

Only a small number of property owners had to pay the additional cost for the contractor snow removal.

Since the 2012 inception of enforcement of the ice and snow on sidewalks bylaw, Minchin noted there has been a drop in the level of complaints from citizens regarding sidewalks.

Councillor Bill McQuesten stated that public safety should always be a priority, but he questioned why the tickets were given out in the first place.

“Why not go to the point of just giving warnings,” he said. He suggested for council to revamp the bylaw by eliminating the tickets and reverting back to giving warnings.

Councillor Reuben Konnik stated the bylaw was initially instated in result of the number of complaints and that council wanted to be proactive in regards to sidewalk snow removal.

“I think it’s working, this proactive approach,” said Konnik. “The bylaw would lose its teeth if the fine was taken out.”

Councillor Grant Harder stated the bylaw failed to define what “safe passage” on a sidewalk means. He also questioned the meaning behind being proactive with enforcement.

“Proactive is going out in the community and looking for violations that are a hazard for our community,” he said. He added the bylaw appeared to be reactive, as opposed to proactive.

Minchin stated the City officers enforcing the bylaw do exercise a level of discretion.

McQuesten suggested an amendment to the bylaw – to begin with issuing a warning 48-hours after a snowfall, and then after a second 48-hour period, if the snow and ice had not been cleared from the sidewalk a $100 fine would be imposed.

After discussion, council took a vote on the amendment presented by McQuesten. With three councillors in opposition, the motion was defeated and the bylaw with fines remained intact.

According to City policy, all residents, including businesses, property owners and tenants are required to clear snow and ice from sidewalks within 48 hours of a snowfall.

Peace officers go on patrol 48 hours following the end of the snowfall and may issue tickets for unsafe sidewalks. Failure to clear snow and ice can result in a $100 fine for the first offence and $150 for the second offence within a six-month period.

The City will place a notice on the property that is in violation of the bylaw.