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CALGARY | Snow Removal

Snow shovelling rules have left some Calgarians confused


CBC News

Monday, December 10, 2018, 4:01 PM - Calgary is planning to crack down on people who don't shovel their snowy sidewalks — but some residents are still confused over whether or not they're responsible for certain sidewalks or pathways near their homes.

John Stambene has been pressing the city for answers on whose responsibility it is to shovel the pathway outside his partner's parents' home.

"One person says, 'no, you don't have to,' the other one says 'yes, you have to,' the other one says 'no, you don't have to,'" he said.

The retirees live in a corner lot in Harvest Hills, with 12-metres of a line-divided, two-metre wide pathway running alongside their home. It connects to a path along a green space the city does clear.

Stambene said the confusion has been ongoing for about six or seven years, and they're just hoping for clarification.

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He said they were told by the city they're only responsible for clearing a two-foot-wide path alongside the house to the back, and the city would clear the other side, but they'll stop at the property line at the back of the house — leaving an uncleared gap for cyclists travelling the path.

They've been shovelling the whole stretch of sidewalk just to be safe, but they're hoping for clarification — and if they don't get some, they're considering moving out of the house they've lived in for more than 20 years out of frustration at the snow-clearing issue, which has only cropped up in recent years.

Area Coun. Jyoti Gondek said she understands why homeowners are confused.

"He didn't like the answer he got, and I can't say I blame him, because it looks very much like a piece of property that the city should be clearing," Gondek said.

But it's not, at least under current bylaws, which differentiate between types of pathways.

"We've developed a lot of neighbourhoods where we have these little pieces, I'll call them orphan pieces, that sometimes don't get cleared at all," said Gondek.

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Gondek said she's asking council for clarification.

"Can someone please explain to me the difference between a sidewalk, a pathway and an engineered walkway?" Gondek asked.

The city's snow-clearing bylaw says owners or occupants of private land are responsible from clearing snow on a sidewalk or pathway adjacent to their property to a minimum width of 1.5-metres from the side closest to their land.

Those breaching that rule will face $250 fines starting next year, and could also be charged if the city dispatches a work crew to shovel the sidewalk for them.

"Sometimes it's the terminology we use that adds to the confusion for residents … If a homeowner can't understand what their responsibility is because the bylaw is too complicated, we need to fix that," said Gondek. 

This article was originally published on CBC.ca, by Sarah Rieger. Includes files from Dave Will.

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