Survey supports tax hike for plowing of all city sidewalks

File photo of a sidewalk plow with a brush attachment courtest of © Can Stock Photo / reticent

Sarnia council will consider a tax hike for sidewalk snow removal during budget deliberations next month.

The city’s public works crews have been provincially mandated since 2018 to have the sidewalks they maintain cleared in 48 hours. Currently that covers 168 of the 328 kilometres of city sidewalk.

Mayor Mike Bradley said a recent online survey showed 41.4 per cent, of close to 1,100 participants, were in favour of increasing taxes by about one per cent to maintain all sidewalks.

“I do find from past experience though, when you’re asked would you support a tax increase on a particular service, people tend to say yes,” said Bradley. “However, they are not in the position of what council is going to have to be when we’ve got multiple requests for additional services. So, we’re going to have to work that out as a council.”

The survey showed 28.2 per cent of respondents were in favour of operating within the current budget and declaring some sidewalks closed, while 25.9 per cent thought the city should revise its bylaw and place the responsibility on property owners to maintain the sidewalks in front of their properties.

“I personally have concerns with that because there are people with disabilities, or because of age, or because of other reasons, can not clear their sidewalks and the thought of fining people in those situations does not appeal to me personally.”

Sarnia’s draft budget for 2021 is already calling for a 2.4 per cent increase in municipal property taxes.

City council budget deliberations are scheduled for December 1.