Snow-clearing facts: One fine issued last year for not clearing sidewalks in Abbotsford

City used 3,500 tons of salt last year, paid just 5 cents/pound

With snow possible to hit the ground in Abbotsford next week, city crews will be getting ready to respond. But don’t expect to leave all the work to the professionals.

Last year, the city spent just over $1 million to remove snow from, and apply salt on, more than 900 kilometres of roads in the largest municipality in British Columbia.

The city uses 16 anti-ice/snow removal units, along with 11 tractors, backhoes and loaders to get the snow off city roads. That and tons and tons and tons of salt.

RELATED: Snow appears in forecast for next week in Fraser Valley

Last year, the city used 3,500 tons of salt, which cost about $400,000. (At roughly five cents a pound, that’s a lot better deal than the salt the average person will buy to put on their driveway.)

City roads are split into three priority levels. About 350 kilometres of roads – including arterial and collector roads, transit routes, school zones, and hillside access roads – are the first priority. When those are cleared, the city moves onto the second, and then the third priority levels. If snow keeps falling on the first-priority routes, those roads will keep getting plowed to keep them cleared.

The Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the contractors they employ, are responsible for clearing not only local highways, but Mt. Lehman Road between Highway 1 and Abbotsford International Airport.

Sidewalks, though, are left to property owners. The bylaw governing sidewalk-removal of snow also prohibits shovelling that white stuff onto the road. Instead, residents should dump it on their own property.

The bylaw requires property owners to have snow removed from all sidewalks bordering their land by noon after the snow first starts to accumulate. (If a home backs onto an arterial road like Maclure Road, the property owner doesn’t have to clear that sidewalk.)

If you fail to do so, you can be fined $150 for the first offence and $200 on the second offence.

But like many other bylaw violations, you’ll probably get a couple warnings first. The city has three levels of compliance. The first two involve education and compliance. But if you persist on leaving your sidewalk uncleaned (and if somebody keeps complaining about it) you can be fined.

Last year, a single ticket was issued for not clearing sidewalks.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
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