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Sidewalk Maintenance - Whose job is it anyway?

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As many of you have noticed, sidewalk maintenance in the downtown core has been hit and miss since the first snowfall in December. It's easy to blame others and create discord with your neighbours but it's just as easy to ask for or offer help so that together our streets are as presentable and safe as possible. But first - whose job is it anyway?

What is the City of Kingston is responsible for?

The City’s 37 road plows and 16 sidewalk plows work continuously during winter weather events to clear over 1,800 km of road lanes and 600 km of sidewalks so that traffic – pedestrians, motorists and cyclists – can move safely and efficiently around Kingston.

Sidewalk plowing is based on a priority system, with high pedestrian volume sidewalks and sidewalks next to high volume roads cleared first.

During normal winter conditions, the target to clear sidewalks once the precipitation ends includes:

  • High volume sidewalks within 24 hours.
  • Residential sidewalks within 48 hours.
Click here for more detailed information on the Winter Maintenance Policy for the City of Kingston.


What is the Downtown Kingston BIA is responsible for?

Although sidewalk and winter maintenance is not technically a duty of the Downtown Kingston BIA, we assist both the City and property and business owners in the maintenance of the downtown streets within the BIA boundaries. We employ 5 part time Street Crew - 7 days a week, 3 hours a day to pick up stray garbage, empty and clean overflowing garbage receptacles, sweep and remove cigarette butts, weed the flower beds in summer and hand shovel intersections, around benches and garbage receptacles during the winter. They also assist when there is a winter storm event. The Street Crew program is funded by the City of Kingston and is designed to help individuals who are homeless or recovering from mental health or addictions challenges get back into the work force.

We are always here to help. If you need help to remove snow at your location, reach out and if we have capacity, we can send street crew to help or you can hire them yourselves outside of our program.

What are Property and Business Owners responsible for?

The weather in December and January has been unpredictable and complex. We have had 2 major weather events, followed with deep freezes, then rain and ice and so on. This has left our sidewalks and public spaces in a dangerous and messy state. We do depend on the City and their machinery to take care of the bulk of the snow and ice in the downtown core, but it's also the property or business owners responsibility (check your lease agreement) to go above and beyond in ensuring that the sidewalks outside of your building are free of ice and snow. Below is the actual bylaw that outlines expectations. 

Street By-law: Snow and Ice (click to view full bylaw)

No person shall deposit snow or ice on a roadway, regardless of whether it has been removed from an adjoining property, private entrance or sidewalk.  

The owner or occupant of every building shall remove the snow and ice from the roof of that building:

(1) whenever the snow and ice on the roof pose an immediate danger to the health or safety of any person using an adjoining highway; or  

(2) whenever the owner or occupant is requested to remove the snow and ice from the roof of the building by the City or the Kingston Police.

The owner or occupant of every commercial property in the designated Downtown Business Improvement Area (B.I.A.) which adjoins a sidewalk shall remove the snow and ice from that sidewalk as soon as is practicable but, in any event, not later than 12 hours after the end of the precipitation that caused the snow and ice.

The owner or occupant of every commercial property referred to in section 4.53 shall take such action as is necessary to prevent the adjoining sidewalk from becoming slippery or from remaining in a slippery condition. 

The risk with not honouring this bylaw is that you may be ticketed by the bylaw officer or should someone hurt themselves on the sidewalk outside of your property, you could end up liable for damages. But the main reason is that we want to ensure that downtown Kingston is welcoming and safe for everyone, and this is one way you can do your part.