The legal system has not issued any guidelines, with respect to who should be held accountable for the clearing of the sidewalks during the winter months. Some townships inside of Ontario have chosen to charge homeowners for the clearing services provided by the municipality. That charge gets placed on homeowners that have failed to clear the sidewalk in front of their residence within the 24-hour period that has followed a given snowfall.
How does that approach compare with what is done in larger cities outside of Canada?
New York City hires contractors to remove the snow from the sidewalks. The City recovers the money paid to the contractors by adding the money spent on the clearing of the sidewalks to each homeowner’s tax bill.
In Reykavik, the capital of Iceland, the sidewalk gets heated, so that the heat melts the snow. That heat comes from thermal energy, which gets supplied by Iceland’s hot springs. In some cities, the authorities have called for placement of pipes under the sidewalk. Those pipes carry heat from the HVAC system. As is the case in Reykavik, the heat melts the snow.
City laws in Ontario
There are public ordinances in number of cities in the province of Ontario, including Occupiers’ Liability Act. This ensures that the home occupiers and owners have to remove the snow from the sidewalks or be held liable for slip and fall injury claims. That is why it is essential to talk with a personal injury lawyer in Chatham that is aware about such laws.
In the city Hamilton, the Section 5 of the bylaw 03-296 lays down that the business and home owners need to remove all snow and ice from the public sidewalks and street corners, within 24 hours of accumulating. All of the removed snow cannot be thrown on the road or blocks fire hydrants. Fines can be nearly $5,000 if there is failure to adhere to it.
While in Ottawa, as per the bylaw no. 2005-208 of Property Maintenance regulations, all businesses and home owners are required to clear the ice and snow from their property and around it. However, salt, gravel or soil cannot be used for its removal and ensure that snow or ice does not become a public safety issue or lead to slip and fall cases.
In Toronto, the Chapter 719 of the city’s Municipal Code requires homeowners and business to keep their property and areas around it snow and ice free within 12 hours of snowfall. Salt and sand are allowed to be used to remove difficult ice or snow. Any slip and fall accident that happens due to the carelessness of the property owner or occupier makes then liable to pay damages to the victim as it is a case of negligence and breach of duty of care.