We get a lot of snow here in Regina and, so far, this year we seem to have already received a winter’s worth – and it’s not even the end of December yet.

The thing is, a lot of it doesn’t get removed. And then it sporadically melts. And then it freezes. And that’s when it gets really ugly. Think about how many senior citizens don’t drive and wind up taking their lives in their hands just heading out for a carton of milk. Why just last week, I witnessed a septuagenarian walking down the middle of 13th Ave. just to avoid the sidewalks. I can only imagine how it is for anyone with serious mobility issues. To put it plainly, for many, Regina is more or less impassable for a good four months out of the year. And that’s because our sidewalks aren’t cleared.

So why isn’t there a bylaw requiring everyone to shovel their walks? At present, Regina has no bylaw that requires individual homeowners to shovel their walks. Commercial building owners (including landlords of multi-unit residences) have between 24 and 48 hours to remove snow and ice on walkways abutting their property, depending on where in the city they are located. Failure to do so can result in a $110 fine.

To compare, most other cities do have snow removal bylaws that apply to individual home owners. Edmonton, for example, has a snow removal bylaw that requires snow be removed from sidewalks within 48 hours with a $100 fine for non-compliance.

For the past few years, the City of Regina has cited a high compliance rate as the reason to not impose a bylaw on this issue. And, in yesterday’s Leader-Post, in response to Saskatoon’s recently implemented snow removal bylaw, Mayor Michael Fougere cited that compliance rate again.

 According to the City of Regina, 72 per cent of our walks are kept clear in winter.

Does that number seem right to you? When you walk around your neighbourhood or place of work, does it seem like 72 per cent of the walkways are cleared? Because it sure doesn’t to me. In fact, yesterday afternoon, as I passed through the intersection of Victoria Ave and Albert St, I took a few pictures. Three of the corners had hard-packed snow on them – and the walkway along the southeast corner was almost treacherous. This wasn’t recently fallen snow either – it looks like it hasn’t been cleared at all since our first snowfall this past November. Check it out:

Walking along side streets is generally even worse.

So I asked myself “where did they come up with that number?”

According to a 2009 report: “An independent survey done in March 2007 by UMA Engineering found 75 per cent of sidewalks were cleared. They did this by dividing the city into 20 areas, selecting three arterials, three collectors, and four local roads at random to be surveyed.” The city says they also regularly send out staff to survey the sidewalks, and they found a 72 per cent compliance rate over 2010/2011. “This involves randomly selecting streets throughout Regina and literally counting the number of houses where sidewalks have been cleared,” they said.

So I put it to you, dear reader – do you think Regina’s sidewalk snow removal compliance rate is 72 per cent?