Summerland changes snow-clearing bylaw after losing lawsuit

Bylaw changed after lawsuit

The District of Summerland is making changes to its sidewalk snow clearing bylaw after losing an expensive court decision earlier this year. 

Muriel Winona Scheck successfully sued the municipality for a fall she took on Dec. 29, 2015 on an icy sidewalk in front of the Parkdale Place senior’s home where she lived.

While Scheck’s civil claim against Parkdale Place was dismissed, Supreme Court justice Robert Johnston found that the District of Summerland liable for the fall, because it had not been following its snow-clearing policies. 

As a result, Scheck received a “substantial settlement,” according to a district staff report. Chief Administrative Officer Anthony Haddad said the size of the settlement, which was covered by insurance, is confidential. 

The current policy states “during winter months, roads and sidewalks shall be inspected daily for the presence of snow and ice,” which legally speaking, means the municipality has the duty to get the property owner to clear the sidewalk or clear it itself at the owner’s expense. 

“It was never the intent of this policy for the District to maintain all sidewalks in the District, as this would be operationally and budgetarily infeasible,” the staff report said.

The new policy will be worded in a way that ensures the responsibility and legal liability for sidewalk snow clearing rests only with the adjacent property owners. Under the new policy, the District of Summerland would only be liable should a person slip and fall on an ice-covered sidewalk attached to a civic property. 

Council unanimously approved the changes Monday evening.

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