This coming winter the City of Williams Lake is making some changes in its snow clearing of sidewalks, said Coun. Ivan Bonnell Friday.
“We will put a higher emphasis on routes to public institutions like schools, hospitals, seniors centres, bus stops and areas where we know if people have mobility issues it’s difficult to get around.”
As a result of the change of focus, the existing current bylaw requiring property owners to clear sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours of a snow event will be enforced.
Mayor Walt Cobb said with the heavy snow falls last year, it became apparent there were some gaps in the community and areas that were not being looked after.
“Hopefully if all things work out, everything that’s going to be cleared will be cleared within 24 hours,” Cobb said.
Areas that will not be cleared any longer by city crews are in the downtown core, which means business owners will be required to clear the sidewalks out front.
“I think some people will be happier because last year I had constant complaints about the sand and gravel from our plow going down the sidewalks,” Cobb said. “The sand tracked into stores on the carpets and floors. I had people telling me to leave the sidewalks alone.”
Some sidewalks such as the ones on Mackenzie and Western Avenues and the area around Glen Arbor will continue to be cleared by the city crews, said Gary Muraca, director of municipal services.
“One of the things we heard last year during operations was our response time to get in front of schools and the hospitals was not fast enough,” Muraca said. “We were also asked to retain clearing the accessible parkings spots in the downtown core and we will be doing that.”
Of the city’s $515,000 snow removal budget, $80,000 is devoted to sidewalk clearing, Bonnell said, noting the city will make every effort to maintain that budget.
Letters explaining the snow removal policy will be hand-delivered to property owners by city staff on Monday, Nov. 9, and mailed to out-of-town owners of about 500 properties who will still be responsible to ensure snow and ice is removed.
Maruca said of the city’s 1,600 lots fronting sidewalks, the city will still be maintaining more than half of them, and a majority of the other half are already complying with the bylaw.
“This is just a reminder to the ones that aren’t complying,” he said.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to call the city yard at 250-392-1784.