Friday, April 19, 2024

Cities await winter after Supreme Court decision on snow removal

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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Today’s Canadian Supreme Court ruling gives Canadians the right to sue their city for de-icing injuries. The Francophone Federation of Seniors and Retirees of Ontario (FARFO) applauds the ruling.

The union’s director general, Michel Tremblay, insists the decision will ensure municipalities are more vigilant in clearing and icebreaking in winter.

There is now a precedent set by the Supreme Court…Maybe municipalities should take action to prevent some unfortunate situations from happening in their homes., He said.

Michel Tremblay is Director of FARFO.

Photo: Radio Canada

Tremblay does not say he was surprised that elderly or disabled people were injured by slipping on the sidewalk, even if he did not know anyone in his entourage who had such an unfortunate experience.

Older people often have difficulty walking, so I think it is very important for municipalities after a snowstorm to ensure that sidewalks are safe and accessible., He said.

The reason for the city of Nelson

After heavy snowfall on January 4 and 5, 2015, de-icing crews in Nelson, British Columbia, created a long block of snow along a sidewalk adjacent to a parking lot, forgetting to open a hatch toward the pedestrian alley.

Taryn Joy Marche, who had just parked her car there, began to advance and cross the pile. He took it very badly. Her leg was seriously injured.

Marchi then sued the municipality for negligence, but lost in lower court.

But the resident won her appeal to the highest court in her district. The city then, in turn, appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which found it wrong.

The nation’s highest court has remarkably concluded that snow removal practices cannot automatically be described as Basic public policy As argued by Nelson’s lawyers.

Basic policy decisions are decisions regarding a course of action that are based on considerations of public interest, such as economic, social or political factors, provided they are not irrational or made in bad faith.

Quote from:Supreme Court of Canada

Tremblay adds that it is important to ensure that driveways are accessible from the parking area or from the entrance to the building. People should not be forced to cross ice banks, especially when walking with a stick or when walking with difficulty, Determines.

Some municipal reactions

The City of Toronto was granted intervening status in the case before the Supreme Court, which heard the case last March.

In an email, the city asserts that the Supreme Court ruling has the advantage of clarifying the principles that apply in cases of negligence against the municipal administration.

It is important to note that basic city policies are immune to tort and the Court has provided guidance on the type of decisions that should be treated as non-litigable political decisions.

Quote from:city ​​of toronto

The city adds that the decision won’t change its snow removal policy anyway, and that it intends to offer full snow removal services this winter.

Low angle view of City Hall in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto City Hall (archives).

Photo: Pixabay/Scott Webb

It also decided last spring that it would begin cleaning sidewalks in dozens of neighborhoods near downtown and parts of the former East York town.

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In these neighborhoods, citizens still had to clean the part of the sidewalk in front of their housing.

To the west of Toronto, the city of Mississauga says in an email that[elle] Committed to providing high quality snow removal services to its residents and dealers this winter And she intends to study the court’s decision to find out all the legal repercussions.

Facade of Mississauga City Hall.

Mississauga City Hall (Archives).

Photo: CBC/John Lesavage

The municipality assures that its snow removal policies are in no way subject to periodic reviews.

The City of Ottawa, for its part, says it is not in a position to comment on this at the moment, but that Staff will review the Supreme Court ruling over the next few weeks to assess the impact on municipal services.

Mr Tremblay, who lives in the federal capital, says his city is becoming more sensitive to the needs of its citizens.

View of the entrance to Ottawa City Hall.

Ottawa City Council (archives).

Photo: Radio Canada/Danny Globerman

Action plans and recommendations have been developed on issues in various city departments such as land use planning, He said.

The cliff in Ottawa is not perfect, and it will never be perfectHe remembers, because teams can’t, he says, clean up the streets once the storm is over.

We depend on the weather, they are doing their best and there have been improvements; The city, for example, is trying to speed up the spread of salt after a bout of freezing rain, He says.

The city of Hamilton also says it is reviewing the ruling to see if it could affect its bylaws and whether its policies need to change.

Greater Sudbury Municipality has not contacted us.

Community Big friend

Mr Tremblay explains that the city of Ottawa has adopted the concept of Seniors friendly community And she even became a model in the country for her collaboration with people in the golden age.

Our Ottawa-led Seniors Roundtable brings together seniors representing different organisations, including francophones, and at this table many issues such as time to cross the street, safety and clearing of sidewalks are discussed.

Quote from:Michel Tremblay, Managing Director of FARFO

He adds that municipalities are responsible for providing many services to the elderly in the areas of public health, social services, recreation and land use planning.

The fabric It also takes the opportunity to recommend that older people’s organizations approach their municipality and address ways in which they can be more sensitive to the needs of older people or people with disabilities, for example by creating age-friendly communities.

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