As sub-zero temperatures continue into spring, many Calgarians are still calling for more to be done about snowy sidewalks and pathways.

Current city bylaws put homeowners on the hook for clearing adjacent sidewalks and pathways. Under this system, Calgarians are responsible for 5,409 kilometres of sidewalk compared to 249 kilometres cleared by the city according to a recent analysis by CBC Calgary.

Brad Johnson, a community standards sergeant with the City of Calgary, says a huge responsibility rests upon Calgarians to do their part under the system in place.

“There’s a lot of other cities out there in Canada that the city will take care of the snow clearing, but then that goes into your taxes,” says Johnson. “So for the city of Calgary, the onus is on citizens to do it.”

Following a snowfall, if areas are not cleared within a 24-hour period, a complaint can be made to 311, at which point an officer is sent to the area to investigate and post a warning. If the area remains uncleared a day after the city’s warning, a contracted snow removal crew is sent to the site and the property owner is billed. According to Johnson, the city receives approximately 300-500 complaints after major snowfalls.

By allocating the task to Calgarians, the city was able to maintain a $38.1-million snow removal budget last year, nearly half of the $64-million budget spent by Edmonton.

“I don’t think it’s strictly the city that needs to be addressing this and I don’t think it’s fair for the city to be pushing it to its citizens.”  – Sean CrumpSean Crump, who has been dependent on a wheelchair for mobility since 2004, says snow clearance is crucial for him during the winter season. While Crump says there should be responsibility on able citizens to do their part, the city must also take on a more active role in ensuring areas are cleared.

“I definitely think there has to be accountability on both ends,” he says. “I don’t think it’s strictly the city that needs to be addressing this and I don’t think it’s fair for the city to be pushing it to its citizens to be addressing it. I think there’s something in the middle that needs to be done, and I think a lot of people need to take different responsibilities for that.”

Nathan Kunz, nkunz@cjournal.ca

Editor: Jennie Price | jprice@cjournal.ca