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City won't pursue snow removal for driveways

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


The City of Pembroke has closed the door on introducing any service to remove snow from residential driveways.

Since January, council has received numerous requests from resident Bill Halkett, who had asked the city to clear snow out of residential driveways after heavy snowfalls. Halkett contended that the heavy snow and ice deposited by city ploughs made it hard for some homeowners, especially seniors, to remove.

Staff had earlier reported that when pushing the snow with a plow and wing, snow is moved to that outside edge of the street, and produces a snow bank, and subsequently a windrow at the end of driveways. Council learned a vast majority of Ontario Municipalities do not offer a service to remove the windrow and those that do, normally operate on some form of a fee. In most cases the service is only offered to seniors or those with disabilities.

On Tuesday night, Councillor Les Scott called for the matter to be dropped as the city doesn’t have the money and infrastructure for such an initiative. The councillor introduced a motion to shelf the request.

“We’ve studied this enough,” said Scott. “This should not happen in our community. Who’s going to pay for it? We don’t have equipment for it and I don’t believe the taxpayers should fund the removal of snow from private driveways.”

Halkett had told council previously that the City of Toronto introduced a snow removal service under former mayor Mel Lastman. Staff did indicate that Toronto offers the service in designated areas but only after eight centimetres of snow or more has fallen.

Councillor Christine Reavie asked if the city does field a lot of requests for driveways to be cleared after a snowfall. Operations manager Brian Lewis said they will get about six to 12 calls after a major call.

“The operations department does race out to assist when there is a freeze after a wet snowfall and you have a large chunk of ice that is just unmanageable that has dropped into somebody’s driveway,” said Lewis.

Reavie said she liked the idea of community groups, or high school students, taking on a “Snow Angels” project similar to those in Montreal and other cities. Snow angels are those volunteers who shovel sidewalks and walkways for seniors and physically disabled residents. In some jurisdictions, snow angels can be requested through a phone call to the municipality. 

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