Economy The municipality or individuals, who is responsible for snow...

The municipality or individuals, who is responsible for snow removal?

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Removing snow from your doorstep is not only a matter of common sense but also of legal responsibility. – IStock / City Presse

The winter cold brings its share of inconvenience each year, especially in areas covered with a thick white coat. What should be done when a mound of snow has piled up on the roof of the house or in front of the doorstep? Are you responsible if an elderly person slips on the patch of ice covering the sidewalk in front of your house?

Each municipality issues its own snow removal rules. While some cities are entirely responsible for clearing snow from public roads, others are asking residents to help out. In case of doubt, the first instinct is to get information from the municipality.

No negligence

When a municipal decree imposes certain obligations on you, it must be displayed in town hall and may be supplemented by signs affixed near the homes concerned. If this is the case, you will have to clear the snow and salt or sand the ground up to the edge of the sidewalk in front of your home, at the risk of being held responsible in the event of a disaster. The municipalities very affected by snow episodes may also require the installation of snow stops on the roofs, as well as the removal of icicles formed at the edge of the roof and along the gutters. These constraints are imposed on all local residents: property managers, owners or tenants.

In the absence of a municipal decree, it is the municipality which is responsible for snow removal on public roads and which may therefore be prosecuted in the event of an accident. Having said that, that does not exhort you to take any responsibility. Municipal decree or not, we can anyway blame you for your negligence if a patch of snow causes damage by sliding off your roof.

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