Strathcona County has made a change to the time residents will need to shovel their sidewalks.

On Tuesday (Jan.18), council voted to amend their Sidewalk Clearing Bylaw from eight days to 48 hours for clearing sidewalks around private properties, effective immediately. This new timeframe aligns with bylaws from neighbouring municipalities.

“We have an active community, and we believe a 48-hour timeframe will better support residents to move safely through residential areas in the winter,” explained mayor Rod Frank. “The eight-day timeframe, which resets every time it snows again, is not effective and results in many sidewalks going uncleared for lengthy periods of time.”

The bylaw’s expectation is a flat, level path that is wide enough for strollers or walkers to safely pass by. Where ice or other conditions make clearing difficult, residents are expected to apply some type of material for traction, such as rock chips.

Enforcement of the bylaw is still based on complaints submitted through County Connect. Reported locations will be inspected after the 48-hour window and the homeowner will be issued a notice to clear their sidewalk within 24 hours.

If it is still not cleared, contracted services will be used to remove the snow at the homeowner’s expense. The cost could range from $200 to $500, and the fees will be added to the homeowner’s property taxes.

“We know the 48-hour expectation is a significant change for our residents, and our goal is not to fine people for non-compliance,” said Frank. “We hope residents will follow the new timeline and support their neighbours, wherever possible, to keep our neighbourhoods safe and active.”

The county will soon be also reviewing the current priority approach and timelines for clearing public sidewalks and trails. Public engagement on this topic is planned for the spring.