Are you doing your bit for the wellbeing of your fellow Calgary citizens?
We are a community-oriented bunch here in Calgary and the City likes to make sure that everyone is contributing to the safety of our streets.
So, this winter, brush up on your civic duties regarding snow removal unless you want the City breathing down your neck!
A failure to look out for the well-being of other Calgary residents by promptly clearing the snow and ice from your footpaths could lead to an unwanted fine and a black mark against you.
Whether you’re a home or business owner, here’s everything you need to know about the Calgary bylaws on snow removal and what you can do to ensure that an unwelcome envelope isn’t popped through your door in the next few months.
Why is it important to remove snow and ice?
This should be pretty obvious for anyone who lives in Calgary and must navigate our often-icy and snowbound streets in winter.
For Santa Claus and his little helpers, the snow might be harmless fun.
However, for many residents, it can make for treacherous terrain – and easily result in bad accidents, slips and falls and potentially life-threatening situations for the elderly.
So, the duty of care for the safety of others makes it necessary to clear snow and ice from around your property.
Sadly, some residents neglect this duty, making it necessary for the City to introduce bylaws to enforce it.
What do the snow removal bylaws say?
The Calgary snow removal bylaws (section 67 of the Street Bylaw) state that property owners here must comply with the following.
Which areas are homeowners responsible for?
As you can see from the Calgary snow removal bylaws cited above, as a homeowner, you are responsible for clearing sidewalks bordering your property within 24 hours of the last snowfall.
Of course, citizens cannot do all the work. Clearing the snow and ice is seen as a joint responsibility between property owners and the City.
What is the City responsible for?
The City is responsible for clearing:
- Priority roads (applying anti-icing and/or traction material as required)
- Designated sidewalks bordering or on City property
- 500 km of the pathway within 48 hours of snowfall ending
- Transit properties, including bus pads
- Pedestrian overpasses and bridges
- Level out ruts on residential roads
Even public institutions like Canada Post have designated responsibilities and must clear snow from around community mailbox pads. Public and private schools are responsible for clearing snow around the property.
You see – we’re all in this together!
What are You responsible for?
As a homeowner in Calgary, you are responsible for clearing the following:
- Sidewalks that border your property (to a minimum width of 1.5 meters)
- Sidewalks and pathways that border any rental properties that you own
Clearing windrows (snow created by the plows) is optional. The City does not clear them but is responsible for reducing their size at crosswalks and wheelchair curb ramps within 72 hours of a snowfall ending.
You may want to clear a windrow if it blocks access to a sidewalk, private driveway or on-street parking. Unfortunately, the City is not responsible for clearing on-street parking spaces.
Neither you nor the City is required to clear walkways between homes (non-public walkways).
If you receive a snow removal notice from the City, you are responsible for clearing the snow and ice by the time ordered on the notice – or face a fine.
What are the fines if homeowners don’t clear the snow?
As you have seen, the guidelines are very specific for property owners. Failure to properly understand your civic duty can lead to:
If you fail to act on a snow removal notice, the City of Calgary will clear the sidewalk and invoice you for the cost. This will amount to a minimum of $150 (plus GST) plus administration fees.
If you don’t pay the invoice, it will be added to your next property tax bill.
If you are a repeat offender with unpaid fines, you can even end up having to appear in court to explain yourself.
Furthermore, any unpaid fines will be collected by the Alberta Registry Service when you renew your driving license or vehicle registration.
Where are you allowed to put the snow?
Note that you ARE allowed to use motorized equipment to clear snow. There is an exemption to noise restrictions for 48 hours (day or night) after a snowfall ends in recognition of the fact that many people like to use motorized snow clearing devices like leaf or snow blowers.