Clearing Ice and Snow…We Need To Talk


Clearing Ice and Snow…We Need To Talk

From comments in the Cabbagetown Survey, to emails sent to our inbox, to the howls of frustration as shopping trollies are dragged over uncleared sidewalks…we heard you. Many residents have written to us to complain about sidewalks in the area not being cleared within 12 hours and in some cases, not cleared once in the past 14 years.

From “ratting out” neighbours, to City Council’s reluctance to address the problem, and homeowner legal responsibilities – there has been a lot of discussion about what to do about this issue. If we needed reminding about the seriousness of not clearing sidewalks, injuries this year have ranged from sprained ankles, and bruised knees to death.

According to representatives from the city, there are only a handful of by-law officers responding to this issue. Warnings are given prior to infraction notices, but due to the size of the problem and the limited number of officers dealing with it – there is little to no real enforcement.

So what can we do about it…?
We had some residents suggest volunteer crews head out and clear ice and snow for everyone. Some suggested that yellow notices similar to those placed on cars be put on offenders’ mailboxes. There was talk of spraypainting the uncleared snow and ice red (it might look a bit gruesome though), and many suggested simply knocking on the person’s door and asking them why they aren’t doing their part.

Here’s what we suggest:
1. Have A Talk
If you’re comfortable, knock on the person’s door and ask them why they’re not clearing their snow and ice.

2. Leave A Note
If you would rather not speak with them, we’ve created a letter (.doc / .pdf) that you can leave in their mailbox outlining what the problem is and some ideas on how they can fix it, including services that the city offers, or hiring someone to clear for them.

3. Call 311
It might seem severe, and given the level of enforcement, it’s not clear how much effect it has – but the city will contact the resident and let them know a complaint has been made. Hopefully this will be enough to spur them into action before the fine and clearing fees are added to their tax bills.

4. Coming Soon – Door Hangers: In response to this year’s increase in complaints, we are investigating the idea of using highly visible “door hangers” that can be placed on the doors of houses that have not cleared their snow or ice for extended periods. Once we have obtained these, members of the CRA Board will begin placing these on the doors of residences that are not clearing their sidewalks. If you know of a residence that consistently avoids clearing their sidewalk, email us at and we’ll drop by once we’ve got these printed.

If you are on this email list, or visiting the website, then we think that you are probably someone who has pride in this community already and are keeping your sidewalks clear. However, many residents wrote of feeling shame that so many in this area aren’t doing their part.

If you know of someone who is willing to help residents clear their snow and ice (either as a volunteer, or for payment), please email us their details at: and we will add their names to our website as a resource.

2 replies on “Clearing Ice and Snow…We Need To Talk”

The areas I walk are notorious.
The most unacceptable stretch is the first block east of Parliament
on the North side.

This begins with the side of the TD/CT Bank building.
Repeated requests to 311, and the Bank have not resulted in action.
Apparently it is the landlord who is responsible.
We know the corner is dangerous as there have been accidents.
This makes walking on the road an uacceptable option.

It seems there are also several residents in this stretch who do not clear.
These people park on Arthur Goss lane which is at the back of their residences

On the positive side, literally, is the south side of this stretch of Carlton.
Kudos to the Daci(sp?) Co-op.
Thanks for the opportunity to provide input.

PS I broke my arm falling on Metcalfe 5 years ago as a result of a resident not clearing their walk

Thank you for your comment.

We have been hearing many stories of frustration on this topic from residents, this year in particular. We’re currently working on our plan to approach negligent homeowners directly, so hopefully there will be some improvement this year, and we’ll be prepared in the future.

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