Oshawa making downtown sidewalk clearing pilot program permanent

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Published July 8, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Oshawa is making a downtown snow-clearing pilot program permanent, a decision Ward 4 City Councillor Derek Giberson is calling “one of my proudest moments” in the 2018-2022 council term.

Council approved adding 12.1 kilometres of sidewalk with high pedestrian traffic in the downtown core in late 2020, with the program starting January 1, 2021. City staff cleared less than five kilometres of sidewalk previously.

Last fall Council approved extending the program into the 2021 winter season to “allow staff to better assess costs and determine service level requirements,” and the matter came before Council June 20 with staff recommending the program be made permanent.

“The expanded program benefitted property owners and businesses in the downtown and enhanced visitors’ experience and walkability,” read the staff message to Council.

To Giberson, the program was about more than just property owners and businesses.

“It is so our seniors, someone with a disability, a parent with a small child, when *anyone* needs to get somewhere downtown, winter snow isn’t the final deciding factor in whether or not someone can get out or is isolated inside,” he said. “It was a long road to get here but … it’s finally a done deal.”

“No more relying on the patchwork of inconsistent levels of clearing – or non-existent efforts – by different property owners. This is the first time ever in Oshawa that pedestrians throughout our downtown will have the reliability during the winter months of knowing that the snow on sidewalks will get cleared by City workers and they can get around.”

Staff had admitted in their report there were “challenges” in meeting the increased level of service so recommended hiring additional temporary workers going forward. The extra staff will cost $60,000 and the extra salt required an additional $11,000.

Council agreed to fund the program through operating revenues.

The motion passed unanimously.

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