November Focus: Streets / Pathway / Sidewalk Maintenance In Winter

Focus Issues

November Focus: Streets / Pathway / Sidewalk Maintenance In Winter

We hear you Cabbagetowners! Snow removal and maintenance of sidewalks is problematic for many residents. The 2013 survey showed mixed results however 52% of respondents (98/188) reported that they do not agree that snow removal is managed well in Cabbagetown (note: score <=5).

Who is responsible for snow removal from sidewalks?
Well, home owners and businesses are. To the dismay of many residents, the City of Toronto divested snow removal and much of its winter maintenance to private homeowners and businesses due to the width of city sidewalks in older downtown neighbourhoods.

Motorists expect roadways to be accessible and passable in all seasons; pedestrians and cyclist should be treated with the same consideration. As such, numerous community and advocacy groups have voiced their concerns via letters to City Council and Transportation Service; in sum, these groups as well as many resident associations want Transportation Services to expand winter maintenance programs to all areas of the city and especially the downtown core.

For our part, the Cabbagetown Resident Association believes that Cabbagetown would be an ideal area for conducting a pilot to test and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of complete mechanical removal of ice and snow. In late summer, we engaged Transportation Services and proposed that our neighbourhood be considered for pilot testing narrow gauge snow plows and best practices for winter maintenance that have been tested in many cities (including Montreal and Ottawa).

The municipal election threw us a curveball and the timing did not support pilot testing for this year. Rest assured, the CRA will be formally engaging our City Councillor and Transportation services again next year!
In the meanwhile, as caring Cabbagetowners there is plenty we can do ensure that our sidewalks are passable and safe for all.

Be a Good Neighbour This Winter!
We’re asking all Cabbagetowners to help reduce the risk of injury from falls and make it easier for all residents and visitors to safely use our sidewalks by removing all snow and ice from your sidewalk within 12 hours of a snowfall.

Helpful Tips for clearing your sidewalk:
– Sooner is better – remove snow before pedestrians pack it down (and make it much harder to shovel)
– Don’t wait – during heavy or sustained snow fall, get out early and often to remove snow.
– Think that 1 – 2 cm of snow isn’t worth removing? Think again – if not removed, it forms a layer of ice that can be treacherous
– To help prevent flooding, please clear drains of snow as well

The City of Toronto requires that all residents remove snow and ice from steps, sidewalks, driveways, ramps and similar areas to ensure safe access for persons and vehicles, within 12 hours.

Residents with corner lots are reminded that they are responsible for clearing the full length of sidewalk around their home. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $100.00 + $25.00 surcharge (See Municipal Code Chapter 719).

Residents who are physically unable to clear their own sidewalks are encouraged to get in touch with the city to be placed on their list whereby the city will come along (sometimes a few days later unfortunately) and clear the sidewalks for them. This can be done by submitting a service request on-line at, or calling 311. Alternatively, asking a neighbour to help or hiring a contractor will give peace of mind that the work is going to be done in a timely manner. If you’ve got a neighbour who needs help, then this is your chance to be a good neighbour.

If you’ve got neighbours that just won’t clear their snow, 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.

We sincerely hope that you will not need to file a complaint. If you would like to file a complaint about a private property owner not clearing snow from private property, you can submit a service request on-line at, or call 311.

When you clear snow promptly after a snowfall, you play a key role in keeping our neighbourhood moving safely in winter weather.

On behalf of the Cabbagetown Resident Association and all of your friends and neighbours, thank you for being a good neighbour.

2 replies on “November Focus: Streets / Pathway / Sidewalk Maintenance In Winter”

In order to qualify for City snow removal, you have to be a senior and you have no one else in your household who can do the shovelling. Trouble is, when the City finally comes, they don’t shovel at all but rather just spread large amounts of heavy salt on your sidewalk. This is worse – the salt is trekked into your house, it’s bad for dog paws and eventually ends up on your lawn and plants when you are forced to do shovelling after all. I stopped my service.


Yes, you’re correct on all counts. We brought this issue up with Councillor McConnell last year (that the service doesn’t actually result in any shovelling being done, but is instead a delivery of a big pile of salt). She seemed surprised to hear this although it seems to be common knowledge amongst all of the people that we know that have used the service. This was at the tail-end of the season last year, so we made a note to monitor it this year and I’ll include a note about this in the next newsletter. Thanks for adding to the voices on this issue.

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