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Complaints pile up over uncleared pathways in Calgary

Mounds of snow in Calgary, AB.
Mounds of snow in Calgary, AB.

Jill Colton, staff writer

February 9, 2011 — Complaints over uncleared pathways skyrockets in Calgary.

Pathways are harder to shovel than sidewalks.
Pathways are harder to shovel than sidewalks.

Calgary residents are digging out from winter's latest wallop, but it seems the city isn't doing their part to clean up the snow.

15 cm was dumped on the city earlier this week causing traffic headaches, school closures and all types of cancellations.

The high mounds of snow are piled up along streets and sidewalks, making it difficult for people to get around. Residents are concerned about the state of some of the pathways that snake throughout the community. According to one northwest resident it can be treacherous getting to work when the snow isn't plowed.

There is an emerging problem with pathways that run beside a street and adjacent to private property. Some residents are getting notices from the city to clear the snow-covered pathways, which since 2004 have been the homeowner's responsibility.

Two alderman want the situation clarified and are planning to put forth a motion next Monday for bylaw services to use discretion until the matter is sorted.

Ald. Dale Hodges believes that pathway snow clearing is the responsibility of the parks department and not homeowners.

The main complaint, according to Ald. Gord Lowe is that the pathways are wider than sidewalks and therefore clearing them is a massive task. Particularly when there's a heavy snowfall.

Complaints are piling up over the snow removal.
Complaints are piling up over the snow removal.

Chief Bill Bruce says that this puts bylaw officers in a tough predicament. “If you happen to be, unfortunately, on a corner lot where there are paths going up both sides of your property, you're really got a problem. It's a lot of snow to move,” he says.

As of Sunday, Bruce said his department received 8,626 complaints regarding the snow and ice on sidewalks.

He anticipates there will be a record number of complaints this year, due to the high volume of snow.

There are other issues residents are concerned about when it comes to pathway clearing.

One resident said the pathway near her home is used by schoolchildren and that it is very dangerous because it's never plowed.

The city currently clears less than a quarter of Calgary's 700-kilometre pathway system and according to spokesman Dennis Urquhart, the parks department spends roughly $400,000 a year on clearing pathways.

“What we tell people is proceed by caution, or not at all,” says Urquhart.

Calgary saw 15 cm of snow line the ground earlier this week. Heavier amounts of snow were recorded in areas including Lethbridge and Claresholm where 20 cm piled up.

The pressure of the excessive snow has also been too much for some buildings. There have been several reports of collapsed roofs throughout the province.

With files from the Calgary Herald; Postmedia News

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