Clearing Snow in Thunder Bay

City of Thunder Bay using a snowblower to clear sidewalks of the last storm
City of Thunder Bay using a snowblower to clear sidewalks

THUNDER BAY – OPINION – After every snowfall, there are many people deeply upset over the speed that the streets in our city are cleared. The major storm that hit over the Christmas holidays took up to four days for the residential side streets and sidewalks to be cleared.

The snowfall that came down on January 7th, will take several days to clear as well.

Contrasting Thunder Bay to other Canadian cities, like Calgary and Edmonton we don’t really have all that much to really complain about. In both Alberta cities, the sidewalk clearing is up to the resident themselves.

Residential streets in Calgary are cleared when a Chinook, an Indigenous word meaning snow eater, blows through. In Edmonton, residential streets are not cleared of snow in most cases.

In Thunder Bay, we have major streets and sidewalks that need to be cleared as fast as possible. We also have efforts needed in our major business areas as work to revitalize our downtown’s continue.

Perhaps Thunder Bay should examine our current policies on snow clearing for sidewalks?

Laureen and Darius shovel the snow
Laureen and Darius shoveling snow

What if sidewalks were the responsibility of the homeowner for snowfalls up to a certain amount, say for example 10 cm of snow?

That could save dollars, save man hours, and perhaps those could be re-dedicated to clearing our downtown areas. There are efforts by businesses and volunteers to cut through the snowbanks near businesses to allow people to get to the local shops.

Regular removal of snowbanks would make it far easier for people to park, get out of their vehicles, and shop in our downtowns.

It is certainly not likely that Thunder Bay taxpayers would understand or accept a Calgary or Edmonton policy of not clearing residential streets. Heck people might threaten to lynch Councillors who suggested people take responsibility for the sidewalks outside their homes.

However, perhaps some re-dedication on the areas including sidewalk clearing could be done. One of the benefits of homeowners clearing their own sidewalks would be no more snow ridges left by the sidewalk plows.

As City Council heads into budget deliberations there are going to be lots of tough choices for council to make.

Perhaps an examination of the snow clearing budget should be done?

James Murray

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