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City urges progress, not perfection, when dealing with Windsor's icy sidewalks

A person shovels the sidewalks on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Residents are responsible for clearing the sidewalks abutting their properties after snowfall.  (Peter Duck/CBC - image credit)
A person shovels the sidewalks on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Residents are responsible for clearing the sidewalks abutting their properties after snowfall. (Peter Duck/CBC - image credit)

If you've been out for a walk lately, you'll have noticed: Many of Windsor's sidewalks are an icy mess.

It's up to individual residents to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes. Since everything has frozen over, clearing the sidewalks can be difficult — but the city says progress, not perfection, is the goal.

"We've recognized the colder temperatures that may make it difficult to completely remove snow and ice," said Craig Robertson, manager of licensing and enforcement for the City of Windsor.

"So at this point we're taking an approach to ensure that at least people are making some type of efforts."

Icy sidewalks have prompted about 100 complaints from residents, the city says.
Icy sidewalks have prompted about 100 complaints from residents, the city says.

Icy sidewalks have prompted about 100 complaints from residents, the city says. (Peter Duck/CBC)

Residents must typically have the sidewalk in front of their home cleared within 12 hours after the end of a snowfall, while businesses have four hours to get the sidewalk cleared.

However, in cases such as the storm the region received last Friday into Saturday, Robertson said it might not have been possible for residents to get it cleared before temperatures plunged and slush froze into icy ruts.

Downtown resident Lauren Collins has noticed that many of the sidewalks aren't shoveled, noting it's made commuting more difficult.

Collins said it's been a "struggle" to get her own sidewalk cleared with the cold, snowy weather.

"Definitely something that needs to be done to ensure everybody's able to access the sidewalks and get around … if that's walking, riding their bike, whatever that may be," she said. "So it's something that's necessary, but it's definitely been difficult because of the weather."

Robertson said the city expects residents to make some effort to get the snow and ice cleared, even if it's not perfect.

It's when there's been no visible effort to help the situation that Robertson says they'll look at other options.

A Canada Post mail carrier walks along a sidewalk in Windsor on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. The City of Windsor reminds residents its their responsibility to clear sidewalks — but says in cases where the snow has frozen, they just encourage effort in the way of salt or sand.
A Canada Post mail carrier walks along a sidewalk in Windsor on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. The City of Windsor reminds residents its their responsibility to clear sidewalks — but says in cases where the snow has frozen, they just encourage effort in the way of salt or sand.

A Canada Post mail carrier walks along a sidewalk in Windsor on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. The City of Windsor reminds residents its their responsibility to clear sidewalks — but says in cases where the snow has frozen, they just encourage effort in the way of salt or sand. (Peter Duck/CBC)

"If we come into situations where we believe it to be a health and safety issue, or where no effort is being made, we do have the option of taking enforcement action, which would result in hiring a contractor to get things cleaned up," Robertson said.

"But for the most part, I think residents do a pretty good job."

There have been about 100 complaints to 311 about sidewalks this year, Robertson said, and the city team is working to address them.

Effort does not have to be hacking away at the ice, he said: Some salt or sand will do it, as they don't want people to damage sidewalks, either.

"It's not our expectation of somebody's out there with a pickaxe going after that," he said.

"Hopefully, the sun can work some magic over these next couple of days."

The weather forecast is predicting milder (but still freezing) temperatures, starting Thursday.