How to keep your sidewalks safe this winter

January 30th, 2015

If you live in Alberta, you know that the winters can get a little hairy: cold temperatures, lots of snow and ice. But after two weeks of unseasonable warm temperatures in Calgary, there’s no shortage of treacherous walking conditions on city sidewalks. According to the Calgary Herald, between Jan. 12 and Jan. 25, the city received over 3500 complaint calls about snow and ice, as well as over 1000 complaints through their website and app. (Keep in mind that according to the City of Calgary bylaws, it’s the owners responsibility to clear sidewalks and pathways within 24 hours after the snow stops falling.)

Here’s the process the city takes, should a complaint arise:

  • They will make contact with the homeowner about the complaint and issue a warning.
  • If the sidewalk isn’t cleared within 24 hours of the warning, the city will clear it and invoice for the work.

The problem in Calgary is not so much the snow (right now) it’s the ice that has built up between the thawing out during warm temperatures and freezing.

Here are some recommendations for homeowners:

  • Do your best (and what’s reasonable) to clear your sidewalk.
  • Use ‘pickle’ (the salt/sand mixture) on your sidewalk to help with traction. It is available at most city fire halls (for free)
  • If you know your neighbours have a hard time getting out due to mobility, age, etc., become a ‘Snow Angel’ and help them out.
  • If you cannot keep your sidewalk clear because of time, hire someone who can.
  • We’ve also seen people use rubber mats in particularly treacherous areas.

It’s important to remember that as a homeowner, you are obligated to take all reasonable means to ensure your sidewalk is safe for pedestrian use. If someone falls, is seriously injured and wants to pursue a legal route, one the first questions asked will be whether you (as the homeowner) took every reasonable precaution to ensure the sidewalk was cleared appropriately.

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