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City Council approves review of winter operation levels

City of BrantfordCity Council approves review of winter operation levels

City councillors gave the initial approval for a winter operation service level review during their committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, April 6, 2023.

Moved by Councillor Dan McCreary and seconded by Councillor Greg Martin, council members unanimously agreed to have City staff provide a report back to council regarding snow removal in the city, no later than August 31, 2023.

The report must contain options for snow and ice clearing on walking surfaces including sidewalks, park trails, multi-use trails and other walking surfaces, as well as the costing for such services and the results of a public engagement campaign to gauge public interest.

McCreary spoke about how City’s public works staff currently works to clear snow from some municipal sidewalks and multi-use trails, however privately owned sidewalks do remain the responsibility of the property owner and often cause issues for others.

He addressed that the public has concerns about the unsafe condition of walking spaces and noted that there are other municipalities that do snow clearing of sidewalks.

Engaging with the public will be important to gauge the interest as the service of clearing municipal sidewalks will come with a cost via property taxes.

McCreary did mention that to start they may look into a smaller program.

“Perhaps what we might look at is simply a program to start with clearing sidewalks on commercial frontages,” he said.

Councillor John Sless asked that while the review is being done that Staff also review the windrow program (a windrow is the large snow pile left at the end of a driveway after a snowplow has gone through) to help improve its function to have snow cleared in a timely manner for those over 65 and/or with a disability or medical condition.

Councillor Rose Sicoli suggested to staff that a cost analysis be done prior to the community engagement so they can better provide the public with an idea of how much of an extra fee there would be in their property taxes.

Next, Councillor Brain Van Tilborg agreed that public engagement is important as far as costing goes.

“The public engagements really important and the reason that I say that is because if we get into the scenario where we’re applying a general tax, there are going to be some areas that probably will be very thankful that we’re even considering it but there’s lots of areas that don’t have sidewalks,” he said. “ If staff could just consider in the background, creative options on how to pay for this be it surcharges, or a community volunteer system. If we could look into options other than just a single flat rate tax system that goes across the board, that might help and perhaps even look at this as a pilot program.

If the program expands there will be a possible increase in taxes. Final approval for the review report to go ahead will be required at a later date.

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