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When Neighbours Don’t Shovel

Few things are more contentious in Canadian neighbourhoods than issues surrounding snow removal. Whether it’s the snow plows dumping a windrow onto the end of a freshly shoveled driveway, un-shoveled sidewalks, or the late-night use of a noisy snow thrower, someone always has something to grumble about at this time of year.

Consult Your Bylaws

For the purposes of this article, we are going to look at strictly residential issues faced by home owners and rental property owners.

The first step to take when dealing with most neighbourhood issues should be to consult your local bylaws. In the case of snow removal, these bylaws will change from town to town and city to city, and even depend upon whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area. These bylaws will typically speak to issues related to clearing snow from sidewalks; although there may be mention of other snow-related issues such as street parking bans, and services for seniors and those with disabilities.

Sidewalk Clearing

In most parts of the country homeowners are directly responsible for clearing all snow, slush and ice from the sidewalks in front of their house. Failure to clear the sidewalk can result in a monetary fine of between $100 – $150. Many municipal websites will also suggest the application of salt or sand to maintain safe traveling.

For seniors or homeowners with disabilities, most municipalities offer snow removal service; however you may be required to submit an application.

Street Parking

On-street parking is almost universally banned in Canada when it’s snowing. If you are found to be parked on the street during a snow event you may be ticketed and/or towed. This is because parking on the street can prevent the snow plows from safely accessing your street.

Shoveling Private Walkways and Driveways

While municipal bylaws state that a sidewalk in front of your property must be cleared, there are no such bylaws governing your private property. However, this doesn’t mean that you should leave your walkways and driveways unattended. In fact, failing to create safe walkways and driveways can create liability issues.

Visitors to your property, whether invited or otherwise need to have a safe place to walk. This means friends and family, meter readers, postal workers, and even door-to-door solicitors. If uncleared snow or the presence of ice on your property causes a slip and fall injury you could face legal repercussions.

What to Do When Your Neighbour Doesn’t Clear Their Snow

When a neighbor fails to clear the sidewalk in front of their property, it can quickly lead to a neighbourhood dispute. Unlike the property itself, the sidewalk is used by people other than the property owner. People make use of neighbourhood sidewalks all the time, whether to get to work and school, to walk their dogs, exercise, and simply for getting around. When a patch of sidewalk is left unattended it can compromise a person’s safety.

The first step in dealing with a neglectful neighbor is to consult your local bylaws. Following that, you can either speak to your neighbor or provide them with a printout of the bylaw. If they still refuse to comply, you can file a complaint with your municipality.

If you discover that your neighbor is physically unable to clear their sidewalk, because they are a senior, disabled, or have an illness, the easiest solution may be for you to kindly remove the snow for them.

Snow Removal Alternatives

If you haven’t the time or ability to take on you snow removal, try contacting a snow removal company. You may also find that some lawn care companies will take on snow removal during the wintertime.

Explore for more articles on home maintenance, home renovation, and interior decorating.


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