Downtown Fernie after snowfall. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Near daily complaints about snow removal in Fernie

City of Fernie receives 68 complaints between November 3, 2018 and January 17, 2019

The City of Fernie has received nearly a complaint a day about snow removal this winter.

Figures obtained from the City show that between November 3, 2018 and January 17, 2019, there were 68 complaints lodged via the website.

This equates to a complaint every 1.1 days and more than the entire 2017/18 season.

Comparatively, there were 63 complaints received between November 1, 2017 and March 29, 2018.

Communications Coordinator Alycia McLeod said complaints this winter have ranged from snowed in fire hydrants to sanding and windrow removal requests.

She added the City uses the Request for Service application on the website to receive and track complaints.

“This allows the City to ensure tracking and follow-up is completed by staff in a timely manner,” said McLeod.

“From November 3, 2018 to January 17, 2019, the City has received 68 snow removal related requests. These requests vary greatly and do not reflect bylaw enforcement complaints.”

The figures come after concern from a local disability advocate about sidewalk clearing in the downtown core and as the City prepares to conduct a service level review.

LOOK BACK: Snow removal in Fernie causes issues for disabled

Under the Snow and Ice Removal Bylaw No. 1928, business property owners, managing occupants and apartment complex owners are responsible for keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice.

Sidewalks and footpaths must be cleared by 9 a.m. each day, along with any overhanging ice, icicles or snow, which may fall and cause personal injury or property damage.

McLeod explained how the City’s bylaws are enforced.

“Bylaw Services patrol on major snow events starting at 4 a.m. to ensure vehicles are not violating parking regulations and that sidewalks are cleared by 9 a.m.,” she said.

“If sidewalks are uncleared by business owners at 9 a.m., Bylaw would issue a warning notice. If on the following day action has not been taken to remove snow from sidewalks, a ticket would be issued to the appropriate business owner.”

LOOK BACK: Snow removal still an issue for mobility challenged in Fernie

Winter parking regulations are in effect until April 15 and violating these carries a $75 fine.

Bylaw Services issued 63 parking violation tickets between November 27, 2018 and January 17, 2019. McLeod said the department has limited staff resources and works diligently to respond to citizen complaints, and requests.

City staff will present to council on the snow removal policy at the 2019 Service Level Review, which is expected to happen late June.

McLeod said council will then have an opportunity to either increase or decrease service levels.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to fill out the Request for Service form at Fernie.ca to report a problem or request City services.

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