It's Snowing! Who Clears It?

Legal News
Share
Print

Ah . . . a lovely blanket of white! Now who has to shovel it? Who clears the stairs? Who’s responsible if someone falls and gets hurt?


Owners, clear your doorways and stairs.

Make sure your property is safe for visitors. It’s your responsibility to clear the snow and, if necessary, spread sand or salt as soon as possible after a storm. This prevents accidents and lawsuits.

Someone who gets hurt falling on an icy staircase can take you to court for not keeping the stairs free of ice.  If the injuries are serious or permanent, the amounts involved in a lawsuit can be quite high. This is one reason people get insurance.

Also, emergency exits must be clear for quick and easy access.

Tenants, talk to your landlord.

Who’s responsible for clearing snow: the tenant or the landlord? Check your lease. But even if it’s your landlord who’s responsible, you have a duty to tell the landlord about dangerous steps, parking areas or entryways. If you say nothing, you can be held partly responsible for accidents. 

Shovelling snow… not in my yard!

Think twice before dumping snow on your neighbour’s property. The law says everybody has to accept the normal inconveniences of their neighbourhood. But neighbours must also do their best to avoid causing each other problems. This is part of being a good neighbour.  

Many municipalities have rules against shovelling snow onto the street, the sidewalk, bike paths and medians (areas in the middle of roads). Rules can differ from one city or borough to the next. Fines can be quite high, so check the rules in your area.   

Streets and sidewalks are the city’s responsibility.

Municipalities are responsible for clearing snow from streets and sidewalks. They must make a reasonable effort to make them safe. This means having a snow-clearing plan and enough employees and equipment to do the job. But with our weather, it’s impossible for sidewalks to be safe and clear of snow all the time.

What about your car?

Since May 18, 2018, the Highway Safety Code says you must properly clear snow and ice from your car before taking to the road. You can be fined from $60 to $100 if your car is covered in snow, ice or anything else that can fall off and endanger other road users.