Cleaning sidewalks

How much is enough and how much is too much

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Reducing service levels is almost unheard of in municipal government. But town council discussed the possibility at its Apr. 11 meeting.
The trend tends to be in the other direction – creeping increases that have to be paid for by public money. The demand is always for more and better – especially when it comes to snow removal.
The question for council was whether the town should clear more sidewalks of snow in the winter, so as to improve the pedestrian experience. Areas contemplated for the service level increase were the north end of Main St. by Woodland Place and the pedestrian portion of the Hwy. 88 bridge over Sawridge Creek.
The report before council said the sidewalk along that northern section of Main St. is supposed to be maintained by the adjacent property owners, but compliance hasn’t been great. There have been many complaints about it. Should it become part of the town’s ‘designated sidewalks’ category? These are the ones the town clears of snow in spite of the policy that property owners are supposed to do it.
Some councillors were in favour, simply because what helps pedestrians seems to be a good thing. Mayor Warman was thinking along different lines.
“I have no desire to do somebody’s spot just because they don’t comply,” he said. And if the town is doing such stretches of sidewalk already, “why should we continue to do it?”
Ruth Rolfe, presenting the report, said it would be “a huge saving,” if the town pulled back and stuck strictly to the policy, i.e. – leaving it entirely up to property owners to do the sidewalk clearing.
“We have the programs to help people who can’t do it,” Warman said.
“I still think we need to keep some walks cleaned,” said councillor Mark Missal.
Councillor Brice Ferguson suggested the town evaluate its program and figure out how much it would save by not clearing snow on sidewalks in front of private properties.

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