While Hamiltonians generally do not approve tax increases, a majority of Hamilton taxpayers who participated in a survey say they would play a little more each year to get their sidewalks cleared of snow. In a survey that was visited 5,000 times and in which almost 2,000 participated: However staff cautioned that the survey was an opened ended one and had no statistical validity because it was not drawn from a random sample. But for those who did participate:
- 74.6% stated that improving winter walkability should be a Council priority
- 81.6% indicated that they definitely support a tax increase of less than or equal to $10
- 67.0% responded that they definitely support a tax increase of $10-$25
- 49.6% indicated that they don’t support a tax increase of greater than $50
Staff provided two scenarios for enhanced snow removal. To enhance the existing level of service to Under the current service level the city clears sidewalks on municipally owned property, along reverse frontage lots, as well as all of Ancaster, where residents have paid a special levy and sidewalks adjacent to school property.
The first of the two scenarios would clear sidewalks in the base case plus the addition of an estimated 783 km of sidewalk along transit routes. This would cost $1.48 to $1.78 extra costing the average taxpayer $8 per year.
The second scenario would clear all 2400 km of sidewalk in the city. Maintaining all sidewalks in the city would require an increase in the range of $3.53 to $3.78 million with a residential impact of $16.
Edward Soldo Director, Transportation Operations & Maintenance Public Works Department told Councillor Nrinder Nann that even if Council were to approve the higher level of snow clearing it probably can’t be implemented in the coming winter because there would have to be a ramp-up of staff and equipment to provide the level of service in Scenario 2 or 3 based on current in-house staffing.
The snow clearing would begin when snow accumulations reach 5 cm. The clearing would not be down to the pavement either, rather it would be cleared to a snow packed level.
Alternatively, Hamilton will need to contract the additional service out to the private sector. Additional supervisory staff will be required to oversee the program and those requirements will be identified in a future budget.
Staff surveyed a number of Canadian cities to learn their polices around snow removal and the results ranged from full clearing (Toronto) to a limited clearing similar to Hamilton (Brampton).
Staff recommend that the snow clearing issue become part of the 2021 budget debate.