Even as the traces of a particularly snowy March start to fade away, Wellesley residents are still raising concerns about snow removal from sidewalks in the township.
The issue was front and center as Wellesley councillors met Tuesday night.
Heidelberg resident Randy Schafer noted the issue started when the township put sidewalks along his street. Schafer claimed he was told that the sidewalks were for the betterment of the community, however he questions why the subdivisions behind his home do not have sidewalks if that is the township’s goal.
With the sidewalks in place, residents are compelled to clear them, a situation made worse by the way crews clear the roads, he said.
“The region dumps slush and chunks of ice onto the sidewalk … and the residents shouldn’t have to shovel that kind of stuff – nature didn’t put it there, the region, the township put it there; therefore they should be removing it. I walk with a walker because of a motorcycle accident,” he told council.
He is looking for the township to hire a contractor to do the removal from the sidewalks, as Woolwich Township does for all the sidewalks in Elmira.
“If a contractor was the one who removed snow, it will be done in a timely and uniform way,” he said, adding residents shouldn’t be required to hire someone to remove the snow.
“Sidewalks are part of the infrastructure, as are streetlights. Residents are not responsible for changing the light bulbs and the streetlights in front of their house, so how come we have to maintain the sidewalks?” he asked council.
Another resident, Wendy Schickler, said that she lived in her home for 22 for years “peacefully and without incident,” until sidewalks were installed two years ago.
Schickler explained that she used to be able to shovel to the curb to allow for parking on her property, however that is no longer possible.
“We found suddenly, without too much notice, that a sidewalk would be installed regardless of the feelings of the long-time homeowners who were greatly affected by such an intrusion,” she said.
Schickler claimed there was a threat of a tax increase if snow is not removed from the sidewalk in front of her home.
“I had somebody tell me to do it or move. Move where? Any suggestions?”
Like Schafer, Schickler also claimed that snow plows actually dump snow on the sidewalk.
In response, council instructed staff to revisit a March 2022 report on the cost of additional snow removal.
According to that report, the township owns approximately 27 kilometres of municipal sidewalk and 2.5 km of multi-purpose trails along roadways. Some 11 kilometres of sidewalk is on right of ways owned by the region.
Clearing the sidewalks would require an initial cost of $200,000 for equipment and $150,000 a year for full township maintenance, while covering just Wellesley village would require the same start-up costs, the yearly price would be cheaper at $115,000.
For contractors to clear the snow there would be no initial start-up costs, but the yearly budget would be $180,000 for the entire township and $90,000 for just the village. Costs for any plan would be covered through taxes.
Director of public works Chris Cook noted those figures may have changed since last year, with the possibility of more changes between now and the next budget year.