Infrastructure services staff at the City of Kitchener have to propose a budget to city council every year on the estimated winter maintenance costs. Though the numbers for 2022 won’t be officially passed by the city council until Dec. 13, it’s expected to be similar to previous years.
Winter maintenance covers anything from the labour force of the mechanics and drivers that provide 24/7 coverage in the winter, to supplies like salt and fuel for machinery.
Roslyn Lusk, Director Operations for Roads and Traffic, said that road maintenance for the 2021 year was about $4.7 million with a projected increase of $100,000 for this year.
“To calculate the next year’s projected budget, we average out the previous five-year budgets and factor in the creation of new roads,” Lusk said.
As the population of Waterloo Region grows and new roads are built, maintenance needs also increase, causing challenges for the winter maintenance team.
Historically, most of the issues in Kitchener’s winter maintenance come from the sidewalks where citizens can slip and fall. Although the city does cover public sidewalks, private sidewalks such as those outside of a home must be maintained by homeowners.
Under a current bylaw, which was new in 2018/2019, residents have 24 hours to clean their walkways after a snowfall. If the sidewalk has not been cleared by then they will receive a notice from a bylaw officer who will get the city to clean it and the residents will be charged either $400 for the city to clear it, or whatever the price of a contractor could be.
Citizens are encouraged to call 519-741-2345 to report unshoveled sidewalks, but it might be worth considering whose home that is.
“I think the bylaw is great,” said Marysol Montero, a youth in Kitchener, “but I also think it’s important to remember that disabled and elderly people can have an issue with clearing snow, so maybe it’s a good idea to check on them as a community and shovel their sidewalks for them so they don’t receive a fine.”
The City of Kitchener has two programs to aid anyone who needs assistance with clearing their sidewalks: Community support connections (519-772-8787) and The Working Centre (519-743-1151). High school students who need volunteer hours can earn those by helping through winter.
If someone is struggling financially or doesn’t have the time to get sand for their sidewalks, the City of Kitchener provides free sand at walkways and sandboxes all over the city which can be found using this map. The city advises bringing your own shovel and container for the sand.
You can find additional information on the Kitcheners website here