Toronto v. Pedestrians: City isn't clearing snow from sidewalks this winter

Randi Mann
·2 min read
Toronto v. Pedestrians: City isn't clearing snow from sidewalks this winter
Toronto v. Pedestrians: City isn't clearing snow from sidewalks this winter
Toronto v. Pedestrians: City isn't clearing snow from sidewalks this winter
Toronto v. Pedestrians: City isn't clearing snow from sidewalks this winter

Right now Toronto is experiencing unseasonably warm weather, but we know snow is around the corner. Considering COVID-19 is still uncontained, we're urged to refrain from indoor gatherings and enjoy the outdoors. But Toronto won't be clearing sidewalks in the core of the city, complicating the situation for the highly pedestrianized area.

City councillors Josh Matlow and Mike Layton proposed a plan to clear snow from around 1,000 kilometres of residential sidewalks in the downtown core. It's currently the responsibility of property owners to clear adjacent sidewalks.

The city does clear some sidewalks but the service is limited to mostly residential areas (view serviced areas here).

The city says that it won't clear downtown sidewalks because “It’s very difficult to clear in some locations because of the encroachments,” shares Barbara Gray, Toronto’s Director of Transportation. “There are things like retaining walls, hydro poles — and some of the sidewalks are quite narrow. Another issue is on-street parking.” Gray explains.

The plan that the city councillors put forth provides solutions for the aforementioned obstacles. The proposal encourages the city to accelerate a pilot program that started in early 2020, which includes the purchase of nine smaller-scale snow removal machines that could service areas of the downtown core.

The Toronto committee voted against the full-scale snow removal proposal. They did agree to increase enforcement of the existing removal bylaw. By this, they mean charging property owners for not clearing the sidewalk. Last winter there were 44 charges for people not clearing their sidewalk.

John Plumadore, director of the Deer Park Residents Group, says that “COVID-19 is forcing us to be outdoors,” adding, “The City of Toronto must prepare this winter season for the public use of sidewalks. Downtown and midtown has low car accessibility but high rates of pedestrian use. Keeping sidewalks accessible for seniors and people with mobility issues is imperative.”

The decision is not final, so there's still a chance for Torontonian voices to re-table the issue.

Click here to view the video

Thumbnail courtesy of Nathan Coleman