Why is the City of Hamilton so bad at clearing snow from the sidewalks?

Each winter, Hamilton residents call out for more efficient snow clearing on city sidewalks in order to allow a safe path for those who are elderly, living with disabilities,  or with young children. 

The debate about whether the City of Hamilton should clear all sidewalks has been rumbling on for years. 

Right now, residents and store owners are required to clear snow on the sidewalks out front of their property. But, this often leads to many unkempt sidewalks during the winter months with the requirements of snow clearing being left up to the residents.

If sidewalks are not cleared in front of properties, then owners could receive a fine. Snow clearing on sidewalks has been a hotly debated topic in city hall since 2003. 

The city only clears 397 kilometres of 2,445 kilometres of sidewalks in Hamilton and it currently costs them $1.58 million per year to do so. 

Some city councillors and disability advocates want the city to clear all sidewalks. They estimate that it would cost about $3.36 million to clear sidewalks on major streets after five centimetres of snow, and $5.36 million to clear all urban sidewalk. 

Councillors voted to revisit the issue of sidewalk snow clearing in August and that means a full plan and program likely wouldn’t be implemented until early 2022. Leading up to the meeting, city staff are investigating what other cities are doing in terms of snow removal.

It’s not completely rare for cities to remove all snow from municipal sidewalks. Burlington, Oakville, and London often clear all the snow from major and residential streets. 

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