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Damage, improper clearing potential growing pains for Hamilton’s new snow removal plan

Photo of snow being removed from a sidewalk by a small plow. Hamilton added 469 kilometres in it's snow removal plan for 2022-23 which included sidewalk clearing for the first time.
Photo of snow being removed from a sidewalk by a small plow. Hamilton added 469 kilometres in it's snow removal plan for 2022-23 which included sidewalk clearing for the first time.

Hamilton’s head of transport operations made an appeal to residents on Tuesday suggesting anyone unhappy with snow clearing under a new enhanced operation should reach out to the city.

Director Mike Field made the suggestion after a pair of councilors echoed concerns from a small number of constituents citing property damage and improper clearing in their neighborhoods during recent snow events in the city.

Field explained the city’s 2022-2023 snow removal plan mixes city operations with some new independent contractors, the latter being generally responsible for sidewalk clearing.

Read more: Hamilton city council approves enhanced sidewalk snow-clearing program

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He told councillors his department is inspecting and monitoring overall work during every snow event.

“So we’re actively monitoring and I encourage any residents who have any concerns about the quality of their sidewalk snow clearing to contact the customer centre,” Field said.

“That helps us gain some information and aids with any investigations that we need to undertake as far as the performance of that contractor.”

Field said contractors are obligated to cover any costs related to property damage under terms with the city.

Central Mountain (Ward 7) Coun. Esther Pauls said some of her constituents complained about the quality of some sidewalk service while east Hamilton (Ward 5) Coun. Matt Francis confirmed “lots of phone calls” in older neighbourhoods that haven’t traditionally had the service.”

“A lot of the yards are getting kind of ripped up,” Francis revealed.

Read more: 15 to 20 cm of snow expected in Hamilton, Niagara Region on Wednesday and Thursday

Read next: Snowfall warnings issued for parts of southern Ontario as more wintery weather moves in

Hamilton’s enhanced service, activated when there is more than five centimetres of snow,  is designed to improve access and mobility by clearing an additional 469 kilometres of sidewalk.

That and other alterations to the snow removal program added $1.4 million to the price tag for taxpayers moving Hamilton’s overall annual snow removal cost to $2.3 million, or $12 annually per household.

City politcians approved the enhanced sidewalk snow-clearing in an April 2021 council meeting.

During the vote, a number of councillors voiced opposition suggesting public expectations would not be met since sidewalk snow-clearing only happens when there has been five cm or more of snowfall.

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