Medicine Hat Media

Slippery Slope

Snow, ice, roads, sidewalks, salt, shovels, sand. Probably not your favourite words. This happens every year. People complaining about snow, more specifically about snow on sidewalks. It’s the same old story. Worse than snow even, is ice! The deadliest of them all. The stuff that makes people fall, get hurt, break bones. It’s pretty deadly stuff, and it’s harder to get rid of, sometimes nearly impossible if you are looking at not damaging your pavement/cement.

In Medicine Hat, there is a bylaw in place to keep people shoveling the snow, or salting/breaking away the ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property. I was wondering about exactly what the bylaw says, and found it in on the Medicine Hat Police Service website. Supposedly, people have 24 hours to remove any snow/ice/dirt from their sidewalks. This is kind of weird considering it seems like an obscure measurable. If somebody complained to the bylaw officers, by the time they got there, it might have already been cleaned. What if somebody slips and falls but it was at the 22nd hour after it snowed, guess it wouldn’t count if they went and cleaned it up on the 23rd hour? Seems like there is some intrinsic flaws with this plan.

In reference to what I said earlier, about the salt damaging your cement/pavement – it’s true. De-icing salt will damage (sometimes permanently) your cement, not to mention the environment as well as your grass. What about using a ice chisel or metal shovel to remove ice – same issue really; you are going to be damaging the cement. There’s really no way around it, you have to do it. The damage doesn’t change the bylaw – which by the way can get you fined from $100, to $10,000 (most people don’t realize this). *EDIT* Dusty has just brought to my attention that damaging the sidewalks is also against a bylaw to damage streets or “contiguous” areas, meaning sidewalks (anything touching the street). Full quote from bylaw: “No one shall deface, damage, or write upon any structure which is on or contiguous to a street.” So because de-icers and ice chippers damage the sidewalk, is it still okay? This also brings up a funny point about children’s sidewalk chalk… which according to this point, it’s against a bylaw.

Wait a second… What about alleyway sidewalks, sidewalks/gaps in between properties, street crossings, sidewalks adjacent to city parks? These places are always normally always icey. I know this because I walk my dog over some every day (there’s a lot of this in new developing areas where some lots are not built/empty) – sometimes slipping or falling. Most of these are owned by the city? Would the city be safe from their own bylaw? The bylaw states:

The owner or occupant of any premises adjoining a sidewalk shall clear away any snow, ice, dirt or other obstruction from a sidewalk within twenty-four hours after the time such snow, ice, dirt or other obstruction was deposited or formed on the sidewalk.

Semantically, premises are considered any type of “land AND/OR building” and the “owner” means the city. So does that mean I can call up the city and have them removed within 24 hours? What if it isn’t removed within 24 hours, do they fine themselves? How does this work?

Blaming and complaining about individuals is fine and everything, so long as you are not lazy yourself and phone it in. But what about these other “ownerless” areas of ice… which in my opinion far out-weighs (at least in my area) the few lazy people that don’t shovel.
Bylaw No. 1556 PDF

User Comments

7 Responses to “Slippery Slope”

  1. December 15th, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Sean says:

    Time to go fall down outside city hall and sue the City.

    What about elderly people who are unable to clear the paths to their house? Are they supposed to pay someone more money to prioritize their house before 24 hours elapses? Furthermore, someone I work with says her Mother gets charged $20 every time some kids shovel her walk. If there is a heavy snow fall on and off for a week, that could be $140 in snow shoveling costs.

  2. December 15th, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Dusty says:

    When I was younger I would have liked to assume the sidewalk did not belong to the house. This is because someone can park their ugly broken vehicle in front of your house FOREVER, because THAT part is public property, then a fire hydrant on your property is also public property, etc. City roads are almost always by sidewalks, so they seem to go hand in hand.

    I would be up for a plan where the city hires a group per city section to clear the sidewalks of the entire city, in which case you’d pay a very small fee. Then make an opt-out for people who feel they aren’t “lazy” and can do their own walk, or live in a condo, etc. You could even get a snow blower to make the job SUPER easy, and doing the bulk of the entire city would make each house cost less individually. Dumb idea?

  3. December 15th, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Sean says:

    @Dusty – There is a bylaw regarding parked vehicles that can be considered abandoned if they are parked on a highway or any public or private property for a continuous period that exceeds 72 hours and incurs a $230 fine. Link to Medicine Hat Parking Bylaws.

    At the old place I used to live, I would park on the street. The neighbour became irate and left a note on my car requesting me to “park on my own property” despite it being public property. He once even called the Police, for which I receive an abandoned vehicle notice and had 72 hours to move it.

    Regarding groups of people to clear snow, it is usually just easier for residents to do it and doesn’t drive taxes up a lot. Snowblowers break down and aren’t always the most reliable piece of machinery. I can’t begin to list the amount of problems we have had with 3 snowblowers in Regina.

  4. December 15th, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    derek says:

    Always a problem I guess. Not sure if legislation can ever fix this problem. As always people (including city workers) should use common sense. It’s seems common sense isn’t very common anymore though…

  5. December 15th, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Vaughn says:

    @Dusty The sidewalk does not necessarily have to belong to the owner of the premises; however, according to the bylaw, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about the adjacent wording.

  6. December 15th, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Dusty says:

    In Medicine Hat you can park in front of someones house forever, surely as long as your car isn’t actually broken, and goes away / comes back every few days (which you can’t tell if you’re family has work). If there’s a fire hydrant there then you can rat them out if they’re parked withing 15 feet of it. The parking bylaws you linked Sean, supports that they can stay in front of your house forever if they’re abiding by all other rules such as not parking in front of your driveway and whatnot.

  7. December 15th, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Vaughn says:

    Time to start a new series of posts called “Bylaw Bustin'”.

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