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Council to examine seasonal closure of some sidewalks

Prince Edward County may join other municipalities that use a seasonal closure of sidewalks bylaw to relieve liability issues for some sidewalks that cannot be maintained in the winter, and to meet new Municipal Act rules.

Staff proposes that all sidewalks in the hamlet areas of Northport, Demorestville, Milford, Hillier and Rossmore be included in the seasonal closure from Nov. 1 of any given year to April 15 the following year.

Tanya Redden, Construction Supervisor, notes in her report there are various sidewalks within the municipality that have historically not received,
or partially received, winter maintenance.

Under the Municipal Act, 2001, the Municipality can declare any part of the highway, including sidewalks, as closed and is not required to meet the requirements set out in the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) until the closure is removed.

“Staff recommends the seasonal closure of sidewalks be utilized in various
locations at which the municipality has not previously performed winter maintenance or is unable to physically perform winter maintenance operations to the requirements of MMS,” states Redden. “The seasonal closure of sidewalks will relieve the municipality of liability associated with use of the sidewalks which we cannot provide a level of service satisfactory to the standards of the MMS.”

The new bylaw would allow the municipality to conform with new sidewalk standards set in 2018 in the Municipal Act. They include “…the standard for addressing snow accumulation on a sidewalk after the snow accumulated has ended is a) to reduce the snow to a depth of less than, or equal to eight centimetres within 48 hours; and b) to provide a minimum sidewalk width of one metre.”

Considerations evaluated for each hamlet location included roadway surface width, volume, speed and type of traffic and pedestrian use and whether people with mobility issues are forced onto the roadway.

Staff predicts minimal public resistance to the sidewalk recommendations in the report, noting all of the sidewalks listed, with the exception of those in Milford, do not currently receive winter maintenance operations. Some cost-savings would also be realized in Milford.

The bylaw would come to the Feb. 4 regular meeting of council.

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