A Good Samaritan is doing some bad on 13th Street.
Someone has taken snow-clearing into their own hands along the 700-block of that street — and those hands are behind the levers of a skid steer.
Although the mini-plow might make quick work of snow-clearing, residents say it’s also doing some damage to sidewalks and curbs.
Now the city is warning that the phantom snow-clearer risks a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail for nicking the concrete.
It must be embarrassing that the city’s sidewalk snow-clearing is so far behind that a civilian feels the need to take a skid-steer to the job. And someone should be red-faced that no one has been able to catch the do-gooder in the act — “He comes at night,” explains Coun. Garth Rice (South Centre).
But we find the city’s indignant response to be a bit rich.
City manager Scott Hildebrand said fixing a broken curb could cost the city thousands of dollars.
“We do not appreciate private pieces of equipment on city property and doing damage,” Rice said.
“It damages our above-ground infrastructure and, let’s face it, you don’t want somebody who doesn’t know what sticks out of the ground, like curb stops and things like that … If you’re not aware of them, as a city employee would be, you can do a lot of damage. You could have water leaks caused just by your negligence.”
We’d love to believe that city employees out on their plows are guided by precise GPS co-ordinates showing very bump and ripple, but we’ve seen them take out trees on boulevards, so colour us not convinced.
A police spokesman said that anyone could apply for a permit to cross the boulevard, but they’d still be on the hook for damages.
That threat of liability — plus fines and imprisonment —should be enough to make citizens think twice about taking their private equipment onto public property.
But we wonder what song the city will be singing come spring, when the snow gives way to sod.
Because we seem to remember that the city requires you to take your own personal equipment, all the way across the sidewalk, to mow their lawn.
It’s not like a lawnmower can’t chip sidewalks and curbs — we’ve done it, and it does a number on the lawnmower blade, too.
This seems like a case of the city wanting to have its cake and eat it, too.
If they are going to demand that homeowners take responsibility for city-owned property like boulevards in the summer, then they have to be prepared for when people keep it up in the winter.
And, in fact, we believe that shovelling the snow from city sidewalks in front of your house is already your responsibility. In this case, the city’s only upset because one person is doing so over-zealously.
Well, if the city’s snow-clearing efforts are being shown up by a single mystery man or woman with a skid-steer, the proper response isn’t by thundering threats of fining them or putting them behind bars. City staff should just quietly get out there and be first to clear the sidewalk.
That would probably make everyone happy.