Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Edge markers won’t stop sidewalk snowplows from gouging grass

After years of sidewalk plows digging up their grass, some people are using edge markers to help plow operators stay on the right path.

While marking the sidewalk with stakes or wooden rods can’t hurt, it is no guarantee that plow jockeys will not stray off from the sidewalk and end up gouging the turf along the edges.

Now that winter and the snow that comes with it has faded into the rear-view mirror, the full extent of damage to lawns and boulevards from wayward sidewalk plows is clearly visible.

When plow operators can’t see the edges of a snow-covered sidewalk, they are more likely to veer onto the grass, particularly at night, when visibility is even poorer.

It’s frustrating for residents who pride themselves on a good lawn, even if the grass bordering the sidewalk is part of the municipal road allowance, which means city plows are damaging city property.

And it seems to be a widespread problem.

Henry Roden emailed to say he has a sprinkler system in his front yard in Burlington, and that some of the sprinkler heads are near the edge of the sidewalk, where they’ve been “shaved off” by an errant plow blade.

He solved the problem by “driving wooden sticks into the ground, about 12 inches deep and three feet high at the edge of the sidewalk, which helps the snow plow operator find it and prevent damage to the turf or my sprinkler heads.”

Over the past couple of winters, we’ve noticed that some Toronto residents are also using edge markers to protect their grass by defining the parameters of their sidewalks.

But it doesn’t always work. Wai Hong sent us a note saying “you should come over to Agincourt to see the carnage from the sidewalk snow plow. We even have stakes to guide them but every year it is the same old story.

“The (city) councillors are more concerned about how many chickens one can have in their back yard than to take care of this problem.”

We went to Hong’s, on Fulbert Cr., and found several areas of gouged turf that were marked by tall wooden rods — some with reflectors on them — and saw that some of the markers had been knocked over by the plow.

The efficacy of markers is sort of hit-and-miss, which had us wondering if the city has an official position on using them. So we sent a note to roads officials, asking about it.

STATUS: A reply from Cheryl San Juan, a spokesperson for transportation services, said the city does not oppose using edge markers. But it did not say they will make much difference. “Transportation Services typically do not put up markers on sidewalks for winter operations. The contractor does a pre-winter inspection and makes notes of the locations and notifies their winter staff. Some homeowners have erected these markers as well to give the plow operator a heads up that they are off the sidewalk, which is helpful.” After we got her reply, we asked San Juan if the city wants people to put up markers to show the sidewalk edges. “We leave it up to the residents, it is not really required.” The bottom line is that if residents put up markers, don’t be surprised if the plow knocks them over and still damages the turf.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email to jlakey@thestar.ca or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

TORONTO STAR