Friday, February 1, 2019


O.K. so the somewhat plagarized title comes from an article by Luisa D'Amato in today's Waterloo Region Record. The full title of her opinion piece is 'S'no joke: City adds insult to injury on sidewalk snow." Firstly I agree this is not my normal topic for an environmental Blog. Yes I've included local politics in here because it has such an impact on our local environmental issues. Mostly a negative impact I might add. That said I suppose snow is related to climate change but we've had heavy snow prior to climate change. Oh heck I'm doing it regardless.

Ms. D'Amato has related an incident earlier in the week when a woman phoned the City of Kitchener to complain that the snow plough had thrown a lot of snow onto her freshly shovelled sidewalk. She had done her civic duty and more by cleaning it and didn't appreciate the city making her do a legally mandated chore twice. She was advised that she was still obligated to reclean the sidewalk although a city route supervisor could come out and inspect and he or she would determine if there was too much snow for the homeowner to remove again. Quoting Ms. D'Amato "What unbelievable gall for a municipality to not only order property owners to clean up city-owned sidewalks but also to threaten it may force the property owner to clear them again after the city made a mess."

I agree with Ms. D'Amato on this matter. I also agree that in my opinion the law really is tenuous on this matter of demanding that the non-owners of the property (sidewalk) must clean those sidewalks upon pain of financial penalty. It is long past time that the cities took over sidewalk shovelling/plowing and left the homeowners to shovel their driveways if they so wish. This is exactly what is done in Elmira and as I live on a corner lot I'm happy about that.

Now let's up the ante. What do you think after a heavy snow when you see the snowplow clean the street by both throwing the snow on the city owned boulevards but also into the end of the sidewalk and into the end of your perhaps freshly shovelled driveway? Imagine now if you have a double driveway and you are a corner lot and the snowplow operator drops his blades literally fifty or sixty metres upstream from you. He comes around the corner of the main street picking up snow, drops a small proportion of it into the end of the sidewalk then proceeds for the next twenty metres picking up more snow only to throw the whole three to four foot high mess into the bottom of your double driveway. Now the snow that was thrown into the end of the sidewalk does get shovelled out by the city sidewalk plow.

You the homeowner are left to deal with the major blockage at the end of your driveway. If the law is going to be used to threaten homeowners then how about this? What about the city being charged with public mischief for blocking the end of your driveway? If they are willing to clear the snow that they have blocked the end of the sidewalk with (in Elmira) then why not use that same plow to clean out the end of my driveway a scant twenty metres away? To me this is an obvious case of preventing a homeowner from enjoying the use of his property. How well can you use your property if you can neither access it or depart from it? How dangerous is it for elderly citizens (like me) to be blocked into our homes by the city owned snowplow?

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