Remember - Snow Clearing of Sidewalks is the Property Owner's Responsibility in Most Local Municipalities

December 01, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

The local municipalities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge all have snow clearing by-laws for public lands. With the forecast turning ugly today here is a rundown of the by-laws in Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph and a summary of property owner’s obligations. Some municipalities clear sidewalks, some require homeowners to do it, and in some it’s a joint responsibility. 

The larger question is whether homeowners should be required to maintain municipal assets, and who is responsible for accidents on sidewalks? Remember, if you are injured in a slip and fall accident on a public
sidewalk you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call me at to discuss your case. 1 (866) 414-4878


Kitchener residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around their property. The following are excerpts from the City of Kitchener website:

  • You have 24 hours from when the snow stops falling. City bylaws require property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from sidewalks. When staff receive a complaint about an unshovelled sidewalk, they inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. If the sidewalk is not cleared upon re-inspection, the resident will be invoiced for snow removal by the city.
  • Pick up free sand for icy sidewalks Homeowners can pick up free sand for icy sidewalks and walkways at sandboxes located throughout the city.
  • Please ensure you bring your own shovel and container to collect the sand. Find free sand near you. Sidewalks are for everyone. Do your part to keep our community moving safely. The public is responsible for keeping sidewalks around their property free of snow and ice within 24 hours after a snowfall. Walking is one of the most common forms of travel for Kitchener residents. Snow and ice can make it hard to get around and create barriers for anyone with a walker, wheelchair, stroller or other mobility device.
  • Bylaw officers proactively inspect sidewalks citywide. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice within 24 hours of a snow occurrence, a bylaw officer will leave a notice at the property* and will return after 24 hours to re-inspect the sidewalk. If the sidewalk has still not been adequately cleared, the city will have it cleared by our contractor and the property owner will be invoiced for the cost of the clearing. The cost will depend on the following variables; the size of the lot, equipment required and length of time to clear the sidewalk of all snow and ice. The results and recommendations of this pilot will also be reported back to council by May 2020.
  • There are agencies who provide snow removal to seniors or other individuals who are unable to clear their sidewalks. Fees may apply. Please call: Community Support Connections/Meals & Wheels & More at 519-772-8787; The Working Centre at 519-743-1151; or Contact your local high school to see if there are students who need volunteer hours and can help you through the winter. The city has also created a Snow Angel program to recognize those who help their neighbours clear their sidewalks. Learn more about the program or nominate a Snow Angel who has cleared your sidewalk (nomination form currently expired as program is seasonal and will reopen in the winter).
  • If you would like to report someone who isn’t shoveling please call the Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345. When a complaint is received, staff will be sent out to inspect the sidewalk.


The following are excerpts from the City of Waterloo Website:

In Waterloo, responsibility for sidewalk clearance is shared. In general:

  • the city clears sidewalks not connected to a residence or business
  • property owners clear sidewalks connected to a residence or business

Use our sidewalk map to check if a specific sidewalk is the city or property owner's responsibility.

Per the snow removal bylaw, property owners must clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snow or ice storm.

We clear city-maintained sidewalks using standards set out in the Municipal Act, which generally require clearance with 48 hours of the end of a snow or ice storm. Areas with increased mobility needs are given priority after a snow event.

Report an uncleared sidewalk

If a private sidewalk is not cleared after the 24 hour period:

  • enter the address into our online reporting system to dispatch on officer (registration required)
  • contact municipal enforcement at 519-747-6280 during business hours

If a city sidewalk is not cleared after the 48 hour period:

  • let us know using our issue reporting form
  • contact 519-886-2310 during business hours

City of Cambridge:

The following are excerpts from there website:

Sidewalks and Walkways:

Keeping sidewalks clear and safe for all residents is a joint effort between the City and the community. Property owners or occupants are required to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks at the front and side of their property within 36 hours of a snowfall.

View a map (see the website for an interactive map) showing the sidewalks maintained by the City and those that are the responsibility of the property owner. Generally only sidewalks within the central business cores are plowed by the city.


The snow plowing load is shared in Guelph between landowners and the municipality. The following are excerpts from their website:

We clear snow from 660 kilometres of sidewalk, 180 crosswalks, crossings, steps, walkways, and 590 bus stops throughout the city. Sidewalks are prioritized based on pedestrian traffic volume and proximity to high use facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and public buildings.

In Guelph, there are nine zones for snow plowing and sanding, which are prioritized into two classifications:

  • High priority sidewalks: serviced first after four centimetres of snow accumulates.
  • Residential sidewalks: serviced after eight centimetres of snow accumulates.

Clearing the ice and snow from the sidewalk in front of your home or business will make it safer for everyone. Keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice is important for everyone’s safety, particularly the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

Posted under Catastrophic Injury, Chronic Pain, Concussion Syndrome, Fractures, Pedestrian Accidents, Slip and Fall Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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