‘Shoveling for independence’: Nonprofit reminds homeowners of importance of sidewalk snow removal

Local News

With more snow in the forecast, that means more streets and sidewalks will need to be cleared.

An increase in snow means removing snow from your driveway but something you might not think of…the sidewalk in front of your home.

“A lot of people don’t understand, sidewalks aren’t your property, they’re public right-of-way,” said Derek Hackett, public information officer for the City of Minot. “We do ask the public to keep clear the public right-of-way for pedestrian access.”

Many cities, like Minot and Bismarck, have ordinances that require people to remove snow from sidewalks within 24 hours.

If the snow’s not removed, sidewalks can be dangerous for those with disabilities.

“I get it,” said Scott Burlingame, executive director for Independence, Inc. “We’re having a little bit more snow this year and in a few years in the past and it can be hard to get out and do it, but it’s just so important to have a welcoming and healthy and warm and inviting community. When people get out and make their streets accessible, we call it ‘shoveling for independence’ and that’s really what it’s about.”

Snow removal is also required for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“For all of us it’s important to have safe areas to walk,” said Burlingame. “It’s especially important if you’re a person with a disability. Somebody that uses a wheelchair, somebody that has some sort of mobility impairment, to be able to have that clear path to whatever you want to do within the community.”

Another thing that community members might not consider when removing snow is clearing a path for fire hydrants.

“We’d hate to have a situation where we can’t respond to a fire fast enough, because we have to clear snow away from the hydrant,” said Hackett. “So if you have one on the corner, or on the boulevard by your home, try to clear some space so our firefighters, if they need to can get to those hydrants when we get snow.”

Hackett says that if people need help removing their snow, there are organizations in the city that could help, like Independence, Inc.

“If people are struggling to remove snow, if they need help, we want them to give us a call as well,” said Burlingame. “Our goal is to do everything that we can to help make our communities accessible.”

If your city has a snow removal ordinance in place, you could get a fine for failing to do so.

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