Residents of MD of Bighorn hamlets may soon be responsible for shovelling sidewalks in front of their homes as the municipality considers adjusting its snow clearing bylaw.

At a governance and priorities committee meeting Oct. 24, committee members discussed changing the MD’s highway and traffic bylaw to require residents’ clear ice or snow from any sidewalk adjacent to their property within 48 hours of being deposited.

Bill Luka, Bighorn’s director of operations, said the issue is “complex” and would be “such a change” to the MD that it’s recommending implementing the bylaw in a one-year trial program, with minimal penalties for offenders.

“The general discussion is should the MD require residents to clear sidewalks in front of their properties. In doing so, we’d have to amend our highway and traffic bylaw to include some clauses,” said Luka.

If a person fails to clear a sidewalk adjacent to their property, the amendment suggests the municipality may arrange for sidewalk clearance at the cost of the resident.

“If unpaid, the cost may be added to the tax roll of the adjacent property,” states a staff report.

“Violations, which would be subject to warnings, could have a minimum penalty of $25.”

Through the Municipal Government Act, it is the MD’s responsibility to clear public sidewalks.

Luka pointed out that with the municipality also recently approving a budget to clear sidewalks in front of public park spaces, it will need to consider its rules for clearing those areas against what may become expected of residents shovelling sidewalks.

Last May, the streets and roads committee requested administration look at contractors to remove snow from sidewalks in front of public parks spaces. In September, council authorized a $6,600 quote to provide the service annually, with $2,200 required to provide the service for the remainder of this year coming from reserves. The areas covered include the ice rink and Jeffrey Park Playground in Exshaw, as well as the Dead Man’s Flats ice rink, River’s Bend Playground and a trail access point west of the playground. 

Luka also noted most communities which don’t provide snow clearing for sidewalks in-house, regulate it through bylaw, making it the homeowner’s responsibility to shovel adjacent sidewalks.

Neighbouring Banff, Canmore, Cochrane and Calgary all look to residents to clear sidewalks, with variances in the length of time shovelling is required after a snowfall.

Coun. Jen Smith said if the MD were to do a pilot project, she believes it should consider zero penalties with a sole focus on education and awareness.

Reeve Lisa Rosvold agreed education is key, but without even a nominal fine, some might do nothing to follow the bylaw.

“I initially thought why don’t we just do no fine for the first year, but sometimes you just need that to help encourage participation,” she said.

The governance and priorities committee passed a motion to bring the bylaw back for consideration at the next council meeting.

By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 08, 2023 at 13:13

This item reprinted with permission from   Rocky Mountain Outlook   Canmore, Alberta

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