Vacant lots of land seem to be causing the District of Squamish (DoS) some frustration following the large amounts of snowfall the region has seen over the past several weeks.

The Mayor says the local business community has done a great job of clearing sidewalks around the District of Squamish this winter season. She says it’s the “vacant land owners that really drop the ball, big time”. Bylaw staff have been calling land owners asking them to clear sidewalks adjacent to their vacant lots. The Mayor says the land owners have a “million excuses” as to why they cannot clear the sidewalks. “They have property in the downtown, they need to take responsibility for their part in making sure people are safe in our community”. She says that in some communities if a sidewalk is not cleared in a prompt manner the city will clear it and send the business a bill. If the District buys a new piece of equipment that they are looking into, it might be something they could consider doing.

Mayor Heintzman says Council will be considering a specialized $200,000 multi-purpose piece of equipment that could be used for clearing snow in the winter on trails, bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as vegetative clearing in the summer. The Mayor says its a big decision, but with the focus on safe routes to school and on active transportation alternatives, they should be considering it.

The Traffic Bylaw, section 4.12 requires residents or property managers to clear snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property ‘promptly’. There is no specified time this must be completed, unlike Vancouver where residents must clear snow by 10 am the following day after a snowfall. Other communities allow 24 or 48 hours to clear snow. Mayor Heintzman says the wording for this type of bylaw is challenging: “If you say 48 hours maybe that’s way too long, if you say 24 hours maybe that’s way too long, maybe 12 hours is too long. Our bylaw says promptly and what that means is, if there is an accumulation of snow, you clear it…promptly is not 12 hours, 24 hours, promptly is immediately”. The Mayor says that we all need to take part in making our community safe, and that the District relies on citizens to be a part of that.

All of the District’s current equipment used in the winter can also be used in the summer. The fleet consists of 5/6 trucks with blades, a back hoe, grader and front end loader that will run on the roads 24/7 as needed. As well as one or two pieces of equipment that run on the Corridor Trail.

Gary Buxton, District of Squamish General Manager of Development and Public Works says Roads within the District are prioritized, the ‘red routes’ are the first cleared. Red routes are collector routes, arterial routs, bus routes, steep hills (10% gradient and above), then the downtown and business areas. Buxton says “if everything comes together, we can hit every road in the District in 24 hours”.

To date Bylaw has received 14 complaints, no fines have been issued. If you are concerned about an icy sidewalk that has not been cleared promptly you can contact Bylaw on 604-815-5067. For concerns regarding roads within the District you can contact Operations on 604-815-6868.

Filed under: Bylaw, District of Squamish, Ice, Road, Sidewalk, Snow, Squamish