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Clean the icy sidewalks, or else
City urges citizens to report property owners not removing snow

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 8, 2013

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
It's been more than two weeks since Yellowknife was dealt a slippery hand, with 14 centimetres of wet snow which quickly froze.

NNSL photo/graphic

Some downtown sidewalks are still covered with treacherous ice and snow, although the last major snowfall in Yellowknife was more than two weeks ago. - Daniel Campbell/NNSL photo

The city's streets and sidewalks became an uneven skating rink, as property owners and city workers sanded, salted and scraped to clear the way.

In the downtown core, a city bylaw states property owners are responsible for shovelling their sidewalks, but not everyone plays along.

Dennis Marchiori, director of public safety with the city, said about 95 per cent of owners comply with the bylaw.

"We do have some areas that are problems though, that owners don't get to," Marchiori said.

The city has received many complaints about property owners who aren't doing their part. Marchiori said about a dozen warnings have been issued this year.

According to the bylaw, property owners have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks after the first snowfall. If the sidewalk isn't cleared, bylaw officers will first issue a warning, then a ticket if the work still isn't done. Tickets range from $50 for residential properties to $100 for commercial.

But the real cost against property owners can come after tickets, if the owner still hasn't complied. Eventually, the city will hire a contractor to do the work. The bill for that work will go to the property owner and depends on the size of the property and how much work needs to be done.

"$500 would be a starting base," Marchiori said of how much might be billed to the owner.

"With equipment and labour, it adds up fast."

This year, the city has only had to hire contractors to clear one sidewalk.

"It's unfortunate, but we still need to do some enforcement," Marchiori said.

Bylaw officers enforce the sidewalk clearing and Marchiori said he's noticed several businesses which are proactive during snowfalls.

"After the last snowflake hits the sidewalk, within an hour, it's cleaned," he said.

Marchiori encourages residents who notice a large amount of snow on the sidewalk to call municipal enforcement, adding that people in Yellowknife are good at making complaints about the issue already.

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