Winter wonderland…or house arrest? Around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, unusually heavy snowfalls and icy conditions have caused a lot of trouble for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices. In most BC cities, both owners and tenants are responsible to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks by 10 AM or within 24 hours (though many don’t). We’ve compiled a list of bylaws regarding snow and ice removal in major cities around BC to help educate your shovel-shy neighbours and get you on the move again!
Snowflakes that stay on our nose and eyelashes may be among our favourite things—but snowflakes that stay on our sidewalks and turn to thick sheets of ice are not. Unshovelled sidewalks are a danger and nuisance, but for many wheelchair users they’re also a trap: unable to navigate icy city blocks around their own neighbourhoods, many people who use mobility devices essentially become isolated and imprisoned in their own homes.
In most BC cities, both owners and tenants are responsible to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks by 10 AM or within 24 hours (though many don’t). The following list highlights important snow-clearing bylaws around the province. If you see areas of concern please report the location and reason for concern to the city department responsible. And remember that most wheelchairs are wider than a shovel-width—please clear the entire sidewalk! And last of all please remember, shovelling snow onto the street just creates more work for snow plows, and slows down the clearing process, so when clearing snow, please shovel onto your property, away from the road or the sidewalk.
City of Vancouver – The owner or occupier of any property are required to remove snow and ice from any sidewalk adjacent to the property, for the full width of the sidewalk, no later than 10 AM every day. Ask someone to clear your sidewalk if you’re away or unable to. If you’re a senior or have limited mobility and cannot find help to clear your sidewalk, request a Snow Angel by calling 311. To report snow issues call 311 or use the City of Vancouver VanConnect app.
City of Burnaby – Owners or occupiers of single family, two family, multi-family, industrial, commercial or institutional properties are responsible for removing any snow or ice from from sidewalks bordering the property by 10 AM on any day, including holidays. To report unsafe locations please report addresses to 604-294-7460 or email@example.com. Snow clearing can be particularly challenging for seniors and people with limited mobility. Residents who are unable to clear sidewalks can sign up for Burnaby’s Snow Angels program, which will match residents with neighbouring volunteers to assist with snow removal. Sign up online or call 604-294-7388 for more information.
City of Surrey – Residents and businesses are responsible to clear snow from sidewalks around their property before 10 AM after a snowfall. Clear sidewalks make winter safer for everyone. Report unsafe sidewalks to City of Surrey-Report a Problem or by calling 604-591-4370 with specific details of the location.
City of North Vancouver – The owner or occupier of any real property is required to remove any accumulation of snow and ice, and apply de-icer or salt within 24 hours after the cessation of any snowfall, or prior to the depth of snow accumulation exceeding ten centimetres on sidewalks and footpaths. To report problem areas, contact the Operations Division at 604-987-7155 8:00am – 4:30pm (Monday to Friday) For after hours emergencies call: 604-988-2212.
City of Richmond – It is the responsibility of the owner or occupier of all industrial, commercial or multi-family residential buildings to remove all snow and ice from the sidewalk, for a distance that coincides with the property line, by 10 AM every day including Sunday. To report problems call 604-276-4289 or use the City of Richmond App, Richmond Works.
City of New Westminster – Property owners and occupants in New Westminster are reminded that the City’s Street and Traffic Bylaw requires snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks abutting their property by no later than 10 AM of the day following a snowfall event. When clearing, sidewalks should be clear of snow and ice the full length and width and down to bare concrete to ensure accessibility for all citizens. To report problem areas call 604-519-2010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Port Moody – An owner or occupier of real property shall remove snow or ice from sidewalks bordering the property within 24 hours from cessation of a snowfall or storm event which caused such accumulation. Report problem areas to Operations staff at email@example.com or by calling 604-469-4574.
City of Coquitlam – It is the responsibility of the property owner to clear snow and ice from all sidewalks bordering their property. You must clear the sidewalk so that there is a walkable path wide enough to accommodate a stroller or a wheelchair. The city manages a Snow Angels program connecting people who are unable to clear snow with volunteers in their area who are willing to help out. You can learn more about this program on their Snow Angels page, email Snow Angels or call 604-927-6909. To report an area where someone has not cleared their sidewalk, please use the Snow Response Request Tool.
Abbotsford – Residents are responsible for clearing their own driveways and sidewalks in front of their properties. Please do not plow snow from private properties onto the public roadways. Put shoveled snow onto your yard. Extra snow on the roads and sidewalks is hazardous for pedestrians and vehicles. Contact 604-853-5485 during business hours, or 604-864-5552 after hours and on weekends with any problems.
Chilliwack – The City’s Highway and Traffic Bylaw requires that all property owners clear the sidewalk adjacent to their property by 12 noon the day following a snowfall. If you’re a senior needing assistance clearing snow or getting around during a snow event, contact the Seniors’ Resources office, Monday to Friday, 8am – 4pm at 604-793-9979. If you need assistance to clear your sidewalk after a snowfall event you may request the help of the “Snow Angels” at 604-793-9979. Questions and concerns can be directed to 604-793-2810.
Kelowna – Owners and tenants are responsible for clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks fronting their property within 24 hours, while the City of Kelowna is responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks that are on City property. Snow cannot be shoveled onto the roadway as this has the potential to become a safety hazard. You can report a sidewalk issue by submitting a snow/ice sidewalk service request.
Langley – Owners or properties in the City of Langley are required to remove any accumulation of snow or ice from the sidewalks and walkways bordering their property within 24 hours after a snowfall. Report issues to 604-532-7551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nanaimo – Property owners or occupiers must remove snow from sidewalks and footpaths bordering the property within 24 hours of a snow event. Contact 758-5222 or e-mail email@example.com with questions and concerns.
Prince George – Prince George’s snow clearing operations maintain roads and sidewalks throughout winter. Examples of what the City maintains include: roads, laneways, sidewalks, and trails, civic facilities, parks, parking lots and entrances. Report problems to 250-561-7600 or contact via Prince George’s website.
Victoria – The City’s Streets and Traffic Bylaw requires an owner or occupier of land to remove snow and ice from a sidewalk fronting their property by 10 AM each day. Call 250-385-5711 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with problems or issues.
Remember, if you see areas of concern please report the location and reason for concern to the city department responsible as soon as possible. For an additional list of other ways to stay safe and warm this winter, check out the “Hello, Winter” spread in our Winter 2016 issue of the Spin.