Clearing roads and sidewalks during winter Why it’s important to know roles and responsibilities

Winter brings cold weather along with snow and ice-covered roads and sidewalks.

With an approximate $60-million annual budget for winter roadway maintenance, the city is responsible for sanding and plowing the streets and takes different approaches to each.

According to the City of Edmonton, sanding is done when needed. However, residents can report icy streets or intersections and request more sand by calling 311 and reporting the location.

Unlike sanding, the city plows by snowfall amount and by road priority. It’s only when three centimetres of snow has fallen and more is expected that the city plows main roads. These roads include highways, freeways, arterial roads, and bus collector routes, and they’re plowed in that order. The province is responsible for plowing the Anthony Henday because it’s a provincial road.

You may have noticed residential streets are plowed less frequently. That’s because main roads must be completed first and because there must be a snowpack of over five centimetres.

Don’t, however, expect residential roads to be plowed down to the pavement. According to the city website, plows “[smooth] the snow with blades into a 5 cm (or less) snowpack on which vehicles can drive.”

The city plows residential roads once there’s over five centimetres of snowpack.| Karen Mykietka
The city plows residential roads once there’s over five centimetres of snowpack.| Karen Mykietka

Karey Steil, a community relations advisor with the city’s community standards, said the city leaves a snowpack because it would be too expensive to plow everything and because of windrows.

“The windrows would be too big,” Steil said. “The bigger the windrow, the narrower the street.”

Drivers should also watch for seasonal parking bans from November until March. These bans, given with eight hour’s notice, allow the city to clear roads for emergency vehicles, buses, and motorists.

“The signage is on all those roads,” said Steil. “People can also sign up for email notifications.”

While the city takes care of roads, it’s up to homeowners or tenants to shovel sidewalks and driveways within 48 hours of the last snowfall. Residents can report unshoveled sidewalks if there’s a lot of snow, if there’s compact snow, or if it’s slippery.

But Steil said, “You have to have a 48 hour window of no snow” before issuing a complaint.

Tenants or homeowners are responsible for shoveling snow within 48 hours of the last snowfall. | Andrea Booher, FEMA Photo Library [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Tenants or homeowners are responsible for shoveling snow within 48 hours of the last snowfall. | Andrea Booher, FEMA Photo Library [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Homeowners could be fined $100 if they don’t shovel within that time period. Bylaw officers will usually issue a warning first, but, “It depends. It’s up to the discretion of the bylaw officer,” said Steil, explaining bylaw officers may issue a ticket immediately if it’s a problem property. If the sidewalk still isn’t cleared after seven days, the city will fine the homeowner and send out a contractor to clear the snow. While bylaw officers fine the homeowner, Steil said owners and tenants should discuss whose responsibility it is to shovel.

Talk to neighbours who aren’t clearing snow and see if it’s possible to resolve the problem. Call 311 or go to edmonton.ca and file a complaint if the problem can’t be resolved. Complaints require your name, address, phone number, and situation details.

Some neighbours are unable to shovel show, so you can be a Snow Angel and help. Find out more at edmonton.ca/snowangels.

Header Image: Plows clearing the snow on 156 St and 111 Ave. | City of Edmonton


More information

edmonton.ca/winterroads

 

 

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