We all know how important it is to keep up our regular physical activity throughout the year. However, during the winter season, activities such as walking outside can be difficult due to treacherous weather conditions.
Statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) covering 2011 to 2016 reveal that nearly 41 per 100,000 Albertans were hospitalized after slip and falls. Alberta’s hospitalization rate is nearly three times the number compared to Ontario. Only Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island reported higher hospitalization rates.
According to these statistics, “hospitalization” is defined as requiring the patient to spend at least one day in the hospital due to an injury.
These statistics also reveal that falls on average kill 219 Albertans each year, with approximately 4% of these deaths related to falls on ice or snow.
Although there is no single reason to explain Alberta’s high hospitalization rate, it is a likely due to the province’s winter weather patterns and the condition of the streets and sidewalks.
WEATHER PLAYS A MAJOR FACTOR
Icy conditions are likely to be more persistent throughout the winter in Alberta, compared with southern Ontario. Once ice forms it tends to remain because of the bitter temperatures or because of the fluctuating temperatures on a daily basis between above freezing and below freezing.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SNOW AND ICE CONTROL
Homeowners and businesses are responsible to keep the sidewalks adjacent to their properties clear of snow and ice.
In Calgary, the city is responsible for clearing 249 of the 5,658 kilometres of public sidewalk. Calgary Parks will also clear 400 km of its 850 km pathways within 24 hours of when the snow stops falling. A spokesperson for the city has advised that $2.43 million is reserved for sidewalks out of a $38.1 million snow-and-ice control budget.
According to City of Calgary spokeswoman Sheila Johnstone,
Under the bylaw, home and business owners have 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling to clear their sidewalks. The city does not have a time limit, but we do strive to get our sidewalks done within three days.
In Calgary, owners and occupants of a home are responsible for removing snow and ice from the pathways and sidewalks in the front or to the side of their property within 24 hours after snowfall has ended.
The city of Calgary will send property owners a Warning Notice if their sidewalk hasn’t been cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall. If a property owner doesn’t comply within 24 hours of receiving a letter, the city can remove the snow itself and send the owner an invoice (cost of $150.00, plus GST and an administrative fee).
In comparison, in Toronto, the city is responsible for plowing 6,000 of its 7,900 kilometres of sidewalk. Canada’s largest city will clear snow from sidewalks on roads with high pedestrian traffic and on bus routes where it is mechanically possible to do so after two centimetres of snow have fallen. Property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow within 12 hours after a storm. Failure to do so could result in a fine. Toronto has reserved $17.5 million of its $90.7 million snow budget this year to clear for pedestrians.
CALGARY PROPERTY OWNERS OWE A DUTY OF CARE
As a homeowner or property owner, or even a renter, you are responsible for keeping your property reasonably safe for others. Property owners owe those lawfully on their property a duty of care to keep those properties in a reasonably safe condition. This includes cleaning your driveway, sidewalk and walkways from snow and ice. If property owners are negligent in this duty, they can be held responsible for any injuries.
If you have been injured in a fall due to snow or ice, please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555. It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries. Call our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you following a slip and fall injury.