The snow may be here for just a week or two, but sidewalks still have to be cleared from in front of homes and businesses.
To get out the message that downtown Maple Ridge shops must have their sidewalks shovelled by 10 a.m., the day following a snowstorm, or possibly face a $100 fine, four City of Maple Ridge bylaw officers have been dropping into stores to remind owners of their responsibilities.
“Our practice is to start with education on the bylaw requirements before writing tickets. We find that most people are very cooperative when they are reminded of this responsibility,” said bylaw manager Michelle Orsetti Wednesday.
She encourages businesses to clear a space wide enough to allow mobility devices such as wheelchairs or scooters to get by, which also helps moms who are pushing strollers.
Orsetti added that there’s about 75 per cent compliance from businesses who clear their sidewalks.
“We’re doing our best and we are being as pro-active as we can. It’s a safety issue for us so we have to stay on top of it.”
Sometimes, residents are not physically capable of shovelling so the bylaws officers will pitch in and clear the sidewalk.
So far, no businesses have been fined during this brief stretch of winter, which is supposed to be over by the weekend. But fines for not clearing a sidewalk have been issued in previous years, Orsetti said.
Orsetti added that strata councils in condominium complexes also have to clear the sidewalks around their properties and said she’s seen crews doing that work.
As well, city staff have been working to clear pathways around civic facilities, adding salt as they do so, to improve traction.
She added that people can also help their neighbours if their health requires that.
“There is additional snow forecast in the coming 24 hours and the cooperation of the public will help us all get through this extreme weather event,” Orsetti said.
The City of Pitt Meadows has similar requirements and the same fine.
“We require all residential and business occupants to clear the public sidewalks on their property as soon as possible after a snowfall, and no later than 10 a.m.,” Pitt Meadows said on its website. Stairs and ramps also must be cleared.
Its Snow Angel program encourages residents to help out neighbours who can’t shovel their walks, while the city also encourages to park off-street when there’s heavy snow so snow plows can operate.