The Sense of Snow Removal

Clearing away ice and snow from your private and public walkways is important for two reasons: preventing anyone from injuring themselves in a fall; and to protect yourself from a fine.

For instance, Kitchener city by-laws require property owners to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm – even in you’re in Florida! When a complaint is received, city staff will inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. They’ll follow up to make sure the job is done, too. If the snow’s still there, the city will remove the snow and invoice the resident – a cost of $300-$500 each time!

City sidewalks aren’t the only no-snow zones — privately owned lots and plazas are the responsibility of individual property managers, and must be plowed properly, according to city rules. If snow from a private lot is plowed onto a City street, the property management company may be subject to a fine.

Municipalities have varying rules and regulations for the clearing of snow and ice, but business owners should also be aware that they could be liable should an injury occur on or in front of their property. While a recent Supreme Court decision absolved homeowners of injury liability for the sidewalks in front of their property, the same cannot be said for business owners, who are still subject to liability lawsuits under provincial law.


For these reasons, it’s important to consider having professionals handle the snowy stuff – especially when it comes to Canadian winters. It doesn’t just save you back breaking labor, and rushing to have walks and lots cleared within the 24 hour limit, it also saves you time and stress, and provides peace of mind if a major storm hits while you’re out of town, or otherwise occupied.

When looking for a snow removal contractor, it’s important to consider the following qualities:

Meticulous – Attention to detail is vital to satisfying customers, and doing a job properly. Ask questions about what happens in the result of property damage, and if the contractor provides preventative measures, like ice removal, proper drainage, etc., which can save you money come spring!

Timely – Since most snow falls in the evening and is cleared in the early hours of morning, timeliness is important. Make sure your contractor provides a guaranteed window of time in which the work will be completed. Remember, as a business owner, you rely on snow removal contractors to have your lot clear of snow and ice in time to open. As a residential customer, you should expect to be able to get out of your driveway in the morning for work.

Efficient – Many people make the mistake of looking at price instead of productivity. It could take a contractor with a small snowblower several hours to plow the same area that a larger, more efficient piece of equipment could plow in one hour. Be sure to do the math! If a contractor is charging $100/hour for a smaller machine, and another charges $175 an hour for a large plow, the large plow is often the better choice, because it’s more efficient.

Further Reading

City of Kitchener – Guide to Rules and By-laws

City of Kitchener – Snow Removal

City of Waterloo – Sidewalk Clearing

570 News – Hefty Fines for Shovelling Snow Onto Roadway

Bob Aaron – Homeowners not liable for sidewalk mishaps

What is the Law in Ontario for Clearing Snow and Ice from Your Premises?