Sidewalks: To Plough or Not?

Sidewalks: To Plough or Not?

Part of my job as a councillor is to consider the question: “How can Guelph deliver services better, more efficiently, and/or less expensively.”

In a November 14th phone interview with the Guelph Mercury, I used the topic of residential sidewalk ploughing as one example of a service that council should fully examine. I never recommended that the city change or eliminate the service, but suggested that examining the service both for walkability reasons and for budgetary reasons was a good idea.

In the past three weeks, I have been referenced in another Mercury opinion piece, received plenty of emails and phone calls from residents, and been interviewed by CTV Kitchener for the 6 o’clock news hour. With winter banging on our door, the issue of walkable sidewalks is clearly an important and topical conversation point. No one wants a repeat of last year’s mess. Fortunately, forecasters are pointing to the likelihood of a milder winter, and thus snow should be more manageable this year.

My position on sidewalk ploughing remains the same: council needs to reexamine this service delivery. It is clear that there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the current state of sidewalk clearance in Guelph and council has a responsibility to examine any and all services that may be underperforming. While there is some tax savings to be had should Guelph eliminate this residential service and require citizens to clear the sidewalks on their own properties, this per household annual savings isn’t massive – probably close to $2-$5/home. This issue isn’t just about the money, though, but rather about making Guelph sidewalks safe transportation routes during our winter months. That needs to be the city’s goal and a review of options may show that the best way to deliver that service is to get out of the delivery completely. Or not.

Regardless of what your personal opinion may be regarding residential sidewalk ploughing, I’m sure you’ll agree that taking a closer look at how the city can make improvements can never be a bad thing.