The City of Winnepeg, Manitoba is asking that question about clearing snowy sidewalks in winter:
“We typically look at it annually during the budgeting process,” said Brad Sacher, director of public works, adding the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every winter clearing sidewalks.
“We’re asked to look at what kind of efficiencies we can find, and this one sticks out like a sore thumb because so many other cities do it this way.”
Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of the public works committee, said if Sacher doesn’t raise the issue in a pending cost-benefit analysis of snow clearing, she will make sure it becomes part of the public debate.
“We should put the facts on the table about what it costs,” Lukes (St. Norbert) said. “We’re one of the very few cities that do it.”
This sort of returning responsibility to residents is happening is cities across the US and Canada in the wake of the 2008 recession. Where trade-offs are understood and resident engagement is invited, engaging residents in service provision can be beneficial. But without it, it can lead to quite a battle. You can read more here.