Shovel snow or pay – that’s a new policy Pitt Meadows will consider to make sure sidewalks on key pedestrian routes are cleared.
Mayor John Becker said he is going to discuss the matter with senior staff, and believes the city needs to have a staged response to severe weather – as Metro Vancouver does during water shortages.
With as much snow as the Lower Mainland has seen this winter, he would like a city contractor to clear sidewalks, with a “nominal fee” passed along to homeowners who don’t clear the walkways in front of their properties.
Becker said he doesn’t want to fine people who don’t clear the sidewalk bordering their homes or business, as per the city bylaw, when they “may be in Palm Springs.”
The fine is set at $100.
Rather, his approach is that the city should take on the task for important pedestrian routes, and the cost be passed on to property owners.
“We cannot have patchwork clearing of sidewalks,” said Becker.
He said seniors or people with mobility issues cannot be expected to wade through snow.
Seniors are also more likely to be injured in a fall, so pedestrian routes used by them should be a priority.
The city’s current boulevard maintenance bylaw says snow and ice must be cleared as soon as possible, and no later than 10 a.m.
Currently, city crews clear only sidewalks on municipal properties and those bordering parks, and by lowest priority sidewalks inside of parks.
The City of Maple Ridge is also seeking to upgrade its snow removal efforts in light of the worst snow event in seven years.
General manager of public works Frank Quinn said the city will work with the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA to improve snow clearing on sidewalks, and may contract the work to it gets done in a timely manner.
Quinn said the city has not fined tardy shovellers so far.
“Our process has been more to encourage people,” Quinn said, but added that there are challenges where there are vacant buildings and absentee landlords.
As much as 20 centimeters of snow has fallen since the weekend in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, according to Environment Canada, with more expected Wednesday afternoon.
“The last Pacific storm this week is expected to arrive late Wednesday in the form of a strong warm front. The front will move in from the south and spread warmer, moist air into the region Wednesday night. With arctic air in place, there will be heavy snow initially Wednesday night along with a good chance of freezing rain. This will be followed by significant rainfall on Thursday. The greatest amount of snow and freezing rain will occur over inland sections.”
Freezing rain will be a particular problem for the Fraser Valley. Whistler will not feel the effects of the warm air so precipitation should remain as snow during the entire storm.”
Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible.
Winter storm watches are issued when multiple types of severe winter weather are expected to occur together.