Winter brings slick and treacherous sidewalks Clear your sidewalks to prevent injuries and fines

Ice cream. Ice rinks. Ice slides at the Deep Freeze Festival. Freezing rain on sidewalks and roads. Three of these four things belong in the fun category. Avoid the fourth: Icy sidewalks.

As homeowners or property managers, you can also avoid a $100 fine and potentially the cost of snow and ice removal added to the property tax roll. Note the city bylaw, “A person shall maintain any sidewalk adjacent to land they own or occupy clear of all snow and ice.”

Chantel Perizzolo, City coordinator, complaints and investigations, said, “We are a winter city and snowy sidewalks are everyone’s responsibility. We rely on citizens to report unsafe conditions so bylaw can respond and ensure that the hazard is remedied.”

Be sure to shovel snow and clear any ice to prevent fines and injuries. | Rusti Lehay

Perizzolo said, “Citizens can report snow on sidewalks or unsafe walking conditions 48 hours after the last snowfall by calling 311, 24-hours/day.” The two-day span allows people time to clear sidewalks, though you are expected to clear walks during snowfalls.

“Edmontonians can experience heavy snowfall one day, freezing rain the next, and above-average sunny days,” Perizzolo added. This fluctuation in weather has a huge impact on walking conditions for everyonewith or without mobility issues.

Christy Morin, executive director of Arts on the Avenue, left her house one morning during a “beautiful fall weather stretch, but a freezing overnight drizzle coated the sidewalks. I had a horrid fall. The snow had been removed, but I slipped on a shiny thin sheath of ice, braced, fell and cracked my ankle in two spots.” Sitting in a car a few feet away, her friend didn’t see Morin fall. The resulting broken ankle required two surgeries involving steel plates and screws, then six weeks of no pressure or walking and six months of recovery.

When looking at her oddly bent ankle, 90 degrees off normal, Morin remembered thinking, “It didn’t look right, so I took it with both hands and set it to the correct angle.” She was so hot, she put her head on the sidewalk and felt “so grateful it was cold. I realized I was in shock.” She used her phone to call her friend.

From October 2017 to March 2018, there were 332 reported slips and falls. | Rusti Lehay

“Between October 2017 to March of 2018, there were 10,609 complaints received/investigated and only 332 reported falls/slips,” said Perizzolo. Many falls or slips go unreported.

Jane Nagel, area resident, said, ” I fell in January on Jasper Ave and broke my elbow.” Falls on ice have caused fractured wrists, serious concussions, broken tailbones, and more.

Morin was lucky to get both a bed and surgery the next day with an ankle specialist. “One minute you are normal. Then you are not. You learn how every day is special and how anything can change in a moment. One hundred years ago, I would have ended up a cripple.”

Elizabeth Petry, local apartment owner, said, “When you fall on ice, you are looking at the sky so fast, you can’t believe how you got there.”

For Morin, four years still feels like yesterday. “Ice melt is not enough. You need to spread pea gravel and sand, too.”

Petry trains her resident managers, “Ice melt only works at temperatures near freezing.” Cleared sidewalks are ideal.

Perizzolo said, “In freeze-thaw situations where hard-packed snow and ice cannot be removed, sand may be used as a temporary measure to keep sidewalks slip resistant until it can be cleared to the pavement.”  

Do not wait to report problematic walkways, especially on vacant properties. Report icy and uncleared sidewalks by calling 311, emailing 311@edmonton.ca, or downloading the app on your phone. Visit edmonton.ca/snowremoval for more information.

Featured Image: It’s important to clear snow and ice from sidewalks. Not doing so can result in someone slipping and injuring themself. | Pixabay

Rusti Lehay

A member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada since 2003, Rusti has been writing professionally since 1999. Her favourite word activity is immersion editing with memoir writers.

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