Hey! Don't Plow Me In!

Snow Plow TruckNo one likes to spend significant effort to clean the snow off of their driveway only to have the plow come by and fill in the highway end all over again. Most of us grumble and get to work, but an Errington man decided to stand in the way and prevent the grader from doing this with his driveway. In what almost became more ways than one, he didn't have a leg to stand on.

Your kingdom ends at the property line and property for the highway begins on the other side. In order to construct your driveway access you must have permission from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure if you live outside of a municipality. One term of that permission is that your are responsible for all maintenance including clearing snow from highway plowing operations at the access entrance.

Driveway construction and maintenance within a municipality is governed through bylaws. Most bylaws are on line these days, but information about your responsibilities may be obtained by contacting your local bylaw department. Remember that bylaws may not be uniform thoughout the province.

Highway maintenance outside municipal boundaries is conducted by private contractors. The specifications that they must follow include a chapter on highway snow removal. Roadside snow and ice control are dealt with in 3-320, but driveways are not specified as part of the services required.

One might be tempted to push all that snow right back out onto the highway where it came from. While it might be satisfying, there are two reasons that this would be a poor decision to make. The Transportation Act forbids causing anything to be deposited on public highways without authorization in section 62(1). If a collision resulted from the snow you moved onto the traveled lanes, you could be liable to civil action for damages. That could be very costly to you and the victims.

The Transportation Act also forbids obstructing or preventing another person from engaging in any activity if that activity is authorized by the Act. Highway maintenance is an activity within the many powers granted to the Minister. The maintenance contractor would be operating under the authority of the Minister.

Considering that we want speedy snow clearing from highways and not to have to spend more than we already do on taxes for road maintenance perhaps the status quo is acceptable, even if it means that we have to shovel again after the plows pass by.


Snow Plow Solution

I have lived in Regina and Winnipeg where snow can be a much bigger problem than the occasional snowfall we get here at the West coast. Many years ago, the plows would frequently block the end of driveways and the plow operators were subjected to much verbal abuse.

Finally, someone came up with a modification to the snow plow blade which allowed the operator to lower a wing at the end of the blade so that the snow which would block the driveway would be pushed along until the operator raised the wing. This worked amazingly well and demonstrated that there are some municipal officials who don’t hide behind the law, but care enough about the taxpayers who pay their salaries to do something useful and solve a very big problem.

I phoned the RDN last week to complain about my driveway being blocked by a three-foot wall of snow and ice which my 76-year-old wife had to try to move so that we could drive to a medical appointment. The sarcastic woman I spoke to was unsympathetic and said “That’s the way it is everywhere.” I told her that wasn’t true. There were places where that didn’t happen. I may as well have talked to a complete idiot for all I accomplished.

Plowed in driveway

Yes, there is snow plowing equipment that has the ability to drop a wing and clear the end of every driveway as it passes by but this is not feasible in the real world. A snow plow has the ability to clear roads at road speed which means it can clear a certain amount of road per day, if you had to go slow enough to clear the end of every driveway as you pass you would only be able to go a fraction of the speed to do this safely without doing any damage to property or plow meaning you would need many more plows and manpower to clear the same amount of roads per day. This would greatly increase equipment purchasing, operating  and maintainence costs that no jurisdiction will tolerate on their tax bill. One of the realities of living in snow country.

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