December 29, 2021

Not Outrage about Shovelling Bike Path, Just Puzzlement over City’s Forgetfulness about their own Sidewalk Snow Regulation


Gordon has an extraordinary perception and feel for the City of Vancouver.  But here’s one area where I respectfully disagree with him, and that is in his post yesterday discussing  why the bike path was shovelled (which was a city responsibility) and why the city  walkways surrounded by city owned properties were not shovelled. 

Under the City of Vancouver’s bylaws, property owners (and that includes the City of Vancouver along many of the public walkways) are responsible for shovelling their own sidewalks. The City of Vancouver does not obtain a “get out of jail free” card and must enact their own regulation upon themselves.

While everyone agrees that bike lanes should be shovelled, there is no “either/or” situation: it is both sidewalks  along city owned properties  and bike lanes that should be cleared by the City.  The City by its own regulation is REQUIRED to do the due diligence of shovelling the sidewalk that they would enforce any other adjoining property owner to do. But the City appears not to be  doing that.

Tax payers pay for bikeways and their maintenance and we are all good about that. But shovelling the sidewalk along public walkways when the City is the landlord is the city’s responsibility as shown in their very own bylaw. There should be  no need for any motion of a Council member. It is up to the City to be a responsible property owner and do the right thing.

The City is also saying that pedestrians are the first priority in the Transportation Plan it is up to the City to show the way. Shovel the sidewalk adjoining all city owned properties and along the sea wall routes and greenways by 10:00 a.m.   It is only equitable that the City behave the same way as every other property owner.

So as Mr Fumano puts it in the Vancouver Sun,  the City did not “slip up” they simply did not follow their own regulation, in the classic  case of “do as I say, not as I do”.

And here’s the regulation: “Vancouver property owners and occupants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks in front of and, if on a corner lot, alongside their property by 10am the morning following a snowfall or freezing temperatures.

To keep our sidewalks and streets safe for people walking, cycling, and driving:

  • Shovel snow onto your property, away from the road and sidewalk by 10am every day
  • Clear storm drains of leaves and snow to prevent flooding
  • Ask someone to clear your sidewalk if you’re away or unable to or request a Snow Angel”

Here’s Amy Sidwell, Manager of Street Operations for the City of Vancouver. You can hear her advice on clearing the sidewalk at 1:00 in the YouTube video below.  Ms. Sidwell does say this applies to  “all property owners”.

Image: TriciaBarker




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      Dan Thank you for your comment. Most of the sidewalk cleaning work is co-ordinated by Engineering’s Streets Operations which has the coolest equipment. One more reason for this work to be done.

  1. Regardless of possible bureaucratic or departmental reasons, your pojnt and your observations, especially re practices in such places as ‘winterpeg’ is a valid one. Why should private property owners be responsible for public sidewalks? Has no one ever challenged a bylaw that requires property owners to maintain public property? Does climate change put a new perspective on such an obligation or responsibility? Keep up the good work!

  2. This morning the False Creek South seawall snow clearing was ambiguous. It was often a single cleared path straddling the pedestrian and cycling sides. Where there was a clear distinction, like a solid island, both sides were cleared – though the pedestrians path was cleared much much better. The cycling side was essentially impassable except for extreme cyclists.

    part of statement deleted as per editorial policy. Please read policy.

  3. In all my decades living in Vancouver I’ve never seen snow cleared from the sidewalks beside a city park that didn’t have a resident caretaker. And many of the parks with caretakers have gone without as well.

    It’s not a new thing, it appears to be totally consistent long-standing policy. It’s only obvious now because of the bike lanes.

    Perhaps the only way that’s likely to change is if someone slips and injures themselves on such a sidewalk and then sues the city.

  4. The NPA is shooting themselves in the foot if they think this US style culture war stuff is going to gain them votes. I’m sure a few people are gullible enough to eat it up but I suspect more people in Vancouver, a city full of film school graduates and people who work in the industry, and are multi-modal can see through their lies.
    All it takes is to go outside and see a bike lane that isn’t cleared to know that they’re lying.
    Oh well. Does the NPA have anything positive to offer the electorate?

    On other points, bike lanes are part of the road so should get cleared. People who cycle pay for the roads too and have every right to have a way to go with the taxes they pay.
    If a sidewalk isn’t cleared it’s because the property owner didn’t clear it. It’s the current set up now. The discussion should be if we want to change that and what it would take for that. It would be many little snow plows, operators to do it, a plan of which sidewalks should get cleared first, etc. It can be done though.

    But for any sidewalk on, say, a bridge or park edge without a private property owner, the city should clear the sidewalk of course.

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