Home > Representing > Low-Cost/No-Cost Ways To Improve Snow Removal Issues

Low-Cost/No-Cost Ways To Improve Snow Removal Issues

Snow Removal

Blocked sidewalks become common as winter progresses.

On tonight’s city commission agenda is a discussion about the snow removal policy. I sent in a few low-cost/no cost ideas to the city manager to improve snow removal in the city—we can experiment.

Snow removal ideas:

  • Clear communication that snow removal for pedestrians is a priority. It would be encouraging to know that the city manager ranks this as a priority and has communicated that throughout the City workforce. And, does so every autumn.
  • Incentives provided for “beyond the call of duty” maintenance. A lot of the rough spots in town could be solved by more attention and commitment to detail with a trusty shovel.  How do we create the culture and incentives for that to take place? Stop the machine, jump out and shovel away the snow.
  • Provide shovels to employees (to keep in trucks) and at difficult spots around town (for anyone to use). If there is a shovel handy (and sand) we could develop a cultural of citizen involvement  where everyone contributed. I know there have been several times that I said, “if only I had a shovel with me.” TART Trails does this with brooms along the trails; they don’t lose as many brooms as you’d think.
  • An annual, consistent and creative public campaign that speaks to the importance of the community working together to make the city accessible for everyone during the winter. Find some communications money.
  • A volunteer notification service via email letting people know when sidewalks need to be cleared (to avoid fines, paying for the city to clear).
  • A way for neighbors to report poor conditions. The use and encouragement of a hot-line or online tool to report problem or neglected areas. (www.SeeClickFix.com is a free and easy to use system)
  • An organized volunteer program for citizens to take ownership of certain difficult places in the city. We have people volunteer to adopt highways, why not sidewalks?
  • Enforcement of current policy and consideration of establishing fines for not maintaining a sidewalk. Saline, MI’s policy is below. The City could actually make money on this.


  • SALINE, MICHIGAN’s FINES: “People who fail to comply with the ordinance will be issued a Civil Infraction Violation. Civil Infraction Violation fines are $25 for the first offense, $50 for a second repeat offense within one year, and $100 for a third and each subsequent repeat offense within one year. In addition, the City may clear sidewalks, and the property owner will be charged for the work performed. The minimum fee for the City to remove the snow is $75 per visit and $30 per visit to treat ice. Costs to clear your sidewalk are in addition to the civil infraction violation fine. Property owners may not be notified in advance of the City clearing their sidewalks.”
  1. JohnRobertWilliams
    December 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Gary, For decades, within a block or two of downtown, we have an able and free work force just sitting, needing to assist the community, needing fresh air and exercise. The GT County Jail is full of able-bodies souls who could clear the sidewalks. I’ve seen it done in Gaylord for years…why can’t we try it here?

  2. Dave
    December 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I’m not so sure I’d feel totally comfortable calling or informing my city, nor would my city, enforcing its ordiance about sidewalk snow removal. There is somewhat of a social effect, but perhaps not. If there are several people that have not shoveled their sidewalks of snow and removed ice, others may think it’s no big deal. Ice–not often though was recently around where I live in SE Michigan, forms and is hard to remove too.

    On a funny sidenote, when you put in “removing ice from” in google, the first result that comes up in the feature that puts in potential searches is “removing ice from car”

    How about this for encouragement:

    “You can’t shove winter away, but you can shovel snow away. Please, clear your sidewalks/public right of way for safety’s sake”

    Also, I was thinking that in the suburbs, where it’s not uncommon for people to not speak a whole lot with those within their own vicinity, for older homeowner’s and/or with physical disabilities/diminished physical ability, if there was a system that encouraged a few people per block to help shovel or shovel the snow of someone else’s property, that might help. It may make receiving assistance on part of those potential recipients more seamless and likely. Honestly, I’ve grown up and lived in the suburbs my whole life, and people basically get in their car and go–and you may live within a 1/4 mile of several people, yet barely speak to anyone.

    I think that’s a lot of what this site is about, but that is my point. Sure, there are neighors that talk and help each other, but that resident 100 feet down the street, you may not know that person or be on speaking terms with them really. That’s the person I’m talking about.

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