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Who Is Responsible For Clearing Public Sidewalks From Snow?

It has been a harsh winter filled with heavy snowfalls. As a result, public sidewalks have been in dire need of shoveling and sanding in order to avoid hazardous conditions for all citizens. Depending on where your residence is located, the laws in Alberta will differ in regards to who is responsible for clearing these sidewalks.

In some areas, it is the municipality who is required to uphold safe conditions on public sidewalks, while in other areas, it is up to the individual. Failure to fulfill this duty can have serious consequences in certain parts of the country. Oftentimes, you will have to act within a certain time limit, i.e. twelve or twenty-four hours, depending on the area, and if you do not meet your deadline, you could be punished with a monetary fine.

How the aging population has influenced the duties of clearing sidewalks?

With more and more senior citizens roaming around outside, it has become a bigger priority to keep sidewalks safe. The majority of aging citizens prefer walking over driving, which has led municipalities to realize that our public sidewalks will need to be free of ice and slush throughout the cold season, otherwise personal injuries will skyrocket. The personal injury lawyer in Okotoks know that with slip and fall injuries there will be an increase in the personal injury claims. It does increase the pressure on the courts of the province when it can be prevented.

However, you cannot have cleared sidewalks without designating who will need to clear them. Putting this obligation on the citizens means also putting it on the senior citizens who are meant to be kept safe, and who are generally not in a good enough physical shape to carry out this duty. This realization has pushed many municipalities to put this duty upon themselves instead. Increasing taxes by a tiny margin has allowed municipalities to cover snow removal duties all winter long, which has resulted in safer sidewalks and less personal injuries.

Alternatives to snow shoveling

There are some cities in Alberta that have developed a permanent way of keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice. Their solution is heated sidewalks. This heat can come from a multitude of sources. In some areas, it stems from thermal energy which has been harnessed from hot springs and is transported beneath the sidewalk through a net of water pipes. Alternatively, some areas have also opted for electric elements instead. Other cities also use hot water, though there it comes from HVAC systems installed in nearby skyscrapers. The installation of these systems comes at a high price, of course, but it is a great long-term solution for a lasting and annual problem.