File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / haraldmuc

New sidewalk requirement could be a slippery slope at budget time

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent might face a hefty bill this winter to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

Due to changes made to the provincial government’s Minimum Maintenance Standards Act, the responsibility to clear sidewalks of snow and ice within 48 hours after a winter storm has fallen on the municipality.

Pat Bruette, acting director of Public Works, said they are currently crunching numbers and working on a report to present to council. However, the coast to clear sidewalks could have a “substantial” effect on the budget.

“It has a budget impact that’s for sure,” he said.

Although a number was not provided, Bruette said the cost would be “quite large”.

Changes to the Minimum Maintenance Standards were made in the spring. For the most part, Bruette said the municipality was already compliant with the changes, while others will have no financial hardship.

“Unfortunately, the sidewalk [change] appears like it’s going to have a fairly significant financial application to it,” he said.

In the meantime, property owners are asked to help by clearing snow off of sidewalks and salting slippery areas around their land. For now, this is a request but Bruette said there is a possibility of making it a requirement for property owners.

“That is an item we’re looking at,” he said. “There are quite a few municipalities in Ontario that currently hold the property owners responsible for sidewalk snow clearing.”

The matter will go to council in December once the new council members are sworn in.