Toronto’s ombudsman 'monitoring' complaints about snow removal
A line of snow plows clears the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto on Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019 after a winter storm hit the region. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 4:21PM EST
Toronto’s ombudsman says that she is aware of the “broad-based public concern” regarding the pace of snow removal in the city so far this winter and is “monitoring” the issue closely.
Numerous residents have taken to social media to express frustration with unplowed sidewalks and snow-covered bike lanes in recent weeks as the city has been hit with a myriad of messy weather.
In the wake of one major storm earlier this month, Mayor John Tory said that his office alone received more than 150 calls and emails from residents who were unhappy with the snow removal service.
Coun. Josh Matlow also weighed in on the city’s snow removal services over the weekend, posting a message to Twitter in which he said that city needs “higher standards for road snow clearing.”
In a news release issued on Tuesday afternoon, Ombudsman Susan Opler said that there appears to be an issue with both the “quality of service” the city is providing as well as the “very different approaches to sidewalk snow removal in different parts of the city.”
While the city provides mechanical sidewalk snow clearing in most parts of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, residents in Toronto and East York are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their home.
The city has previously contended that this is mostly due to the difficulty in accessing the sidewalks in older, denser parts of the city.
“Both issues raise important questions about administrative fairness in the services the city delivers to meet the needs of the people of Toronto,” the release from Opler’s office notes.
Mayor John Tory has asked staff to review the city’s winter operations management but he has said that any recommendations that come from that review won’t be in place until next winter.
In the release, Opler said that she is awaiting the report “with interest” and will also be following “upcoming city council budget discussions on this topic.”
“Sidewalks not cleared of snow and ice affect many people, including those with mobility challenges and young families with strollers,” she said.