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Snow Removal in Kingston

Snow Removal, slippery sidewalk, KingstonThose who were dreaming of a white Christmas were pretty disappointed last month.  As you’ll recall, unseasonably high temperatures resulted in the closure of numerous outdoor rinks, and made for near perfect driving conditions over the holidays. Last week however, Old Man Winter finally reared his snow-capped head, forcing Kingstonians out of hibernation to clear their driveways and sidewalks on three separate occasions.  It looks as though the white stuff is here to stay, while folks were taking full advantage this past weekend, participating in cross country skiing, outdoor skating and even the odd snow ball fight.  Now that we’ve endured our first series of snow squalls, and witnessed the response from our neighbours and Public Works respectively, this week’s poll asks:

How can snow removal be improved in Kingston?

  • Better residential sidewalk clearance. (49%, 55 Votes)
  • Less snow plowed into my driveway. (26%, 29 Votes)
  • Adjust neighbourhood designations. (12%, 13 Votes)
  • Better salting and sanding. (9%, 10 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (5%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 113

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Kingston has four distinct snowplow designations, which determine how fast the City is supposed to de-ice, sand and plow a given street.  Do you know where your home falls on the list?  Moreover, does the City meet the timings specified for your neighbourhood’s designation?  Please keep in mind that the City of Kingston asks all residents to do their part by removing snow and ice from the “crossings” around their property within 24 hours after a given storm.  Are your neighbours diligent shovellers, or are you fearful that they’re going to contact the City’s bylaw enforcement office (613-546-4291, ext. 3135) to report unsafe conditions surrounding your property?

In addition to answering this week’s poll question above, I’d really appreciate it if you would share your winter safety concerns, or a humorous snow plow-related anecdote with a comment or two.  What are the snow clearance problems in your neighbourhood?  How does Kingston compare to other cities you’ve witnessed responding to snowmaggedon?

Thanks to Urban Eyes for today’s photo.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

9 thoughts on “Snow Removal in Kingston

  • January 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm
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    There would be no need for better sidewalk clearance if the city weren't responsible for it. I grew up in Hamilton, where sidewalk clearance was covered under city bylaws, and it was the responsibility of the house owner to take care of their own sidewalks. People not shoveling their sidewalks is a huge pet peeve of mine, even if they know the city machines might be by later in the day. Just do it, people! You're already out there! It's good exercise! The children and old ladies will thank you!

    • January 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm
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      Agreed. Our sidewalks would be so much better if folks tended to them, in a reasonable amount of time, after a snowfall. Instead we get these little, single occupancy paths weaving around the neighbourhood, where snow gets trampled down to icy, uneven surface, which is impossible for both man and machine to remove. Local business owners should not be the only ones held accountable for the sidewalks around their properties.

      • January 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm
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        I do not think that a blanket statement that all homeowners should look after their own sidewalks is fair. In the neighbourhood I live in we have seniors and disabled people owning homes who cannot shovel their own driveways let alone the sidewalks. Is it fair to have them be forced out of their homes into apartments because they cannot shovel themselves and hired a "guy with a plow" to clear the driveway? If there was a by-law in place about the sidewalks it would force these individuals rethink owning their own home.

        • January 14, 2011 at 11:45 am
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          When my grandparents owned their homes, they all shovelled until it became too much for them. A current example of this is my 87 year-old neighbour, who regularly beats me out to shovel her own driveway and sidewalk. When shovelling became too much for my grandparents, they hired someone to do it for them and I suspect my neighbour will do the same. She, like most seniors, wants to stay in her home for as long as possible. But further along down the line when stairs and so forth become a hassle, most seniors move into apartments, or assisted living facilities – no shovelling required there. While I'm sure that some people will interpret my position on shovelling as unsympathetic, I don't think it's unreasonable. Consider the fact that the bylaw enforcement officer will pay you a visit if you don't cut your grass, more of an aesthetic issue in comparison to shovelling, which is safety related. The bylaw folks don't care if you're 20 or 200, the grass needs to be cut once in a while. Although cutting the grass is less arduous than shovelling, last time I checked the seniors I know have gorgeous lawns. Whether they cut the grass or shovel the snow themselves, or hire it done, it makes no difference to me.

          • January 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm
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            Agreed. And there are plenty of kids around who will do it for a minimal price. Shoveling is way more important than lawn mowing. Queen's should encourage students to shovel as well. The sidewalks around the university are some of the worst in the city, forcing many people to walk on the road instead.

  • January 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm
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    Homeowner responsibility for sidewalk clearing is standard operating procedure in most of the province, and I’m surprised that this ISN’T the case in Kingston. This doesn’t need to be onerous for seniors or the disabled at all – every municipality where this is the case has a program where this service is provided at no cost (or a nominal charge) to homes without an able-bodied person residing. This typically includes the windrow (plowed pile) at the end of the driveway as well.

    • January 16, 2011 at 8:28 am
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      Thanks for adding to the conversation. Would you happen to know off hand a few examples, ie cities that provide clearance to those who are unable to do so themselves. To take that one step further, what's the average charge for not shovelling your sidewalk in these municipalities.

  • January 16, 2011 at 8:37 am
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    I agree that homeowners should be responsible for clearing their own sidewalks. I guess I just assumed that they were, as that has been the case in every other place that I have lived, and that they City's efforts were more supplementary.

    While I certainly have sympathy for people who cannot physically shovel their own, and would definitely help elderly or frail neighbours, I believe it is part of the cost of owning a home. If you can't do it yourself, it is your responsibility to hire someone, or otherwise make sure it gets done. This goes for landlords as well – the expectations for snow removal should be clearly understood in the rental agreement, and ultimately, if the tenant isn't doing it, as the owner, the landlord should.

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