Winter is coming. DAVE KLASSEN PHOTO

Changes To Snow Removal For Waterloo

Whether it’s your first winter in Canada or your 75th, one thing never changes: snow removal. With winter just around the corner, the City of Waterloo has been busy coming up with solutions. 

On Nov. 2, the City of Waterloo passed, “Sidewalk Snow Removal Service Level Considerations,” a pilot project which establishes a more robust inspection and enforcement plan. 

In previous years, the City of Waterloo’s snow removal enforcement model involved two officers on separate three-month contracts: December to March — with one officer working December to February, and one working January to March. As a result of this model, December and March only had one officer assigned. 

After receiving complaints in previous years, The City of Waterloo analyzed the information to identify and shift to a three-zone model — with one officer assigned to each zone. In addition, these three officers (one more than in previous years) will be contracted for the full four months of the program.

“By increasing our resources, we’re hoping to see quicker response times, and quicker resolution times in terms of getting the sidewalks clear,” Shayne Turner, the director of Municipal Enforcement Services at the City of Waterloo said.

 Turner elaborated that this pilot project will not currently impact Waterloo residents’ tax dollars, and is funded by the Winter Control Reserve:

“An account is set up by the city, as a contingency plan for situations when [the city] may have a harsher winter, and if winter control measures are more than what’s first budgeted then we can dip into that reserve. But if it’s less than what’s budgeted, then that reserve gets replenished. The extra dollars required for this will come out of that Winter Control Reserve fund.”

The City of Waterloo bylaw requires that all snow be removed from the sidewalk within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall. Turner described the challenges the current model of two officers poses: “there are times when the number of complaints and the volume of complaints coming in are significantly high. With just two officers on, the response times can be longer than what we want.”

Currently, when the City of Waterloo receives a complaint, an officer is sent to examine the location. If the homeowner is in violation, a notice is left indicating they have 24 hours to clear the sidewalk. If a resident does not comply, the City of Waterloo will arrange for a contractor to clear the snow — the cost is applied to their property taxes.

After the two-year pilot project, the city will have the ability to compare response times before and during the project. Turner explained they will be measuring the success, but examining how long it takes to resolve the issue and get the sidewalk in compliance. 

“If everybody does their small part [to keep sidewalks clear] then we can reduce the risk to pedestrians and people that might have some difficulty walking in neighbourhoods,” Turner said.

This winter if you notice a sidewalk in your neighbourhood that hasn’t been cleared 24 hours after the end of the snowfall, you can submit a complaint by calling the City of Waterloo Municipal Enforcement at 519-747-6280 during business hours, or register your complaint on the City of Waterloo’s online portal, found on the City of Waterloo website.