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Why you might have to shovel your sidewalk in Kelowna but your neighbour doesn't

January 12, 2016 - 1:00 PM

KELOWNA - The city deals with complaints about snow clearing every winter, but a resident upset over being forced to shovel a sidewalk they have no real access to has the city looking at a possible change.

Coun. Brad Sieben says the resident contacted him after last week’s snowfall of about 15 centimetres. The current policy requires the resident to clear the sidewalk behind their property.

“They live on a cul-de-sac with a fence in the back without a gate. They had a five-minute walk all the way around to shovel the sidewalk on the backside of their property. We need to look at this policy. It doesn’t make common sense.”

Sieben suggests the current policy, where residents and property owners are required to remove all traces of ice and snow from the sidewalks adjacent to their property, be reconsidered in some cases.

“Maybe a rear-facing sidewalk shouldn’t be your responsibility,” Sieben says.

During a council meeting this week, Coun. Charlie Hodge suggested the requirements of the bylaw were too onerous for many residents and should actually be exempt in some cases.

“I don’t understand why bylaw would go to such extremes to enforce the issue when clearly it’s not necessary,” Hodge said. "I know a resident, an elderly lady who has a neighbour with a disability. Both of them have to hire someone to clear their sidewalks, which is an added expense some people can’t afford."

Coun. Luke Stack described snow clearing as a huge issue, using his own living situation as an example.

“My whole neighbourhood is strata and none of us face the street so none of us shovel. We don’t access to the street for the whole block so why should we clear it off and why should we care?” he asked.

Stack said he would not support a relaxation of the snow removal bylaw without a better understanding of the problem.

The city has a list of sidewalks and thruways throughout the city that are exempt from the bylaw, usually because they are isolated from residental areas or are in front of city-owned properties and facilities.

City manager Ron Mattiussi told council he would direct staff to delve deeper into the issue by counting the number of complaints the city receives on that subject and cataloguing orphan sidewalks.

“I think we need to get a better sense of the problem before we react,” Mattiussi said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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