Sidewalk Snow Removal: Call for Action

As a downtown residential area, we don’t get the same snow-removal service as other areas of the city. On Jan. 24, HVRA Board member Bob Stambula wrote to the Mayor and our Councillor depicting the problem vividly. He also pointed towards potential solutions. Here is an excerpt from his letter:

The absence of City snow removal from our residential sidewalks is a perpetual complaint at the HVRA annual general meetings and throughout the winter. In reply, we have dutifully explained the responsibility of property owners to clear their sidewalks, the City program to assist seniors, and how to complain if sidewalks are not cleared.

It is not just that snow is perpetually not cleared from some segments of our residential sidewalks by those responsible under the bylaw, or that the City enables such conduct by not enforcing its bylaws, there are real consequences that we endure:

  • we risk life and limb traversing snow and ice covered residential sidewalks;
  • some take other risks and opt to walk on the road… as it is often passable when the sidewalk is not;
  • some sadly just retreat and return home, or remain housebound knowing the risk is too great, thus the walkable neighbourhood turns homes into prisons for some elderly and those with mobility challenges; and
  • we do not get what we pay for. It is not lost on us that the unserviced area produces a financial windfall for the City – charging for a service that is not delivered.

For these reasons, the HVRA Board unanimously passed the following resolution at its January meeting:

Let it be resolved that the HVRA calls on our Councillor, the Mayor, and City Council to provide an equal level of snow removal services for all sidewalks within the City’s borders.”

Not all is grim with regards to snow removal. We are among the neighbourhoods that have welcomed a new segregated bike lane. We applaud the City for the robust way that it clears snow from the growing network of segregated bike lanes. This took care, attention and equipment, as does the snow-clearing program for seniors on residential sidewalks. These successes prove that residential sidewalks in the “unserviced area” can be cleared, and equity demands that they should be cleared. Where there is a will, there is a way!

(See the whole letter here.)

1917 photo of snowy sidewalk on Spadina Ave
From 1917, when Toronto sidewalks did get cleared