Snowed in. Photo by Barry Gray.

WINTER IS COMING: City consults on snowplow driveway markers

(Photo: Snowed in, February 2017. Photo by Barry Gray.)

It’s the middle of July, so of course the top thing on your mind right now must be snowplow driveway markers.

The City of Ottawa is running a consultation on “formalizing guidelines for snowplow driveway markers”.  Most people have probably never given much thought to this issue and it’s kind of amazing how specific the rules get.  Take a look at all the rules  being proposed:

Guideline Detail
Earliest marker installation date October 20
Latest date markers to be removed April 30
Prohibited location Not on an outer boulevard (area between a sidewalk and the travelled portion of the street)
Permitted location on property (where there is a sidewalk) Minimum 0.61 m (2 feet) from sidewalk
Permitted location on property (where there is no sidewalk) Minimum 1.22 metres (4 feet) from the travelled portion of the street
Maximum height of marker 1.22 metres (4 feet), measured from the ground
Maximum width of marker 10.1 centimetres (4 inches)
Permitted material of marker Wood, plastic, or fiberglass – cannot be supported by metal bars
Maximum number of markers 2 (one on either side of the driveway)
Permitted information on marker Company logo and telephone number only – no advertising or other information

We asked Ann Benson from Kodiak Snow Removal for her take on the rules. (Kodiak is an advertiser on StittsvilleCentral.ca.) Like all local licensed snowplow companies, Kodiak has been participating in a pilot program with similar rules.  Benson says they’ll comply with whatever guidelines the City decides on, but had three specific concerns:

  1. Permitted material for the marker.  Benson wants to see metal rebar markers allowed, but not fibreglass.  She says fibreglass rods are hazardous for homeowners, because they can break into sharp slivers of fibreglass. She thinks the City is concerned about potential damage to sidewalk plows, but this could be mitigated by requiring markers to be placed further back from sidewalks.
  2. Maximum number of markers.  Benson says that in almost all cases only two markers are required, but sometimes homeowners request more to highlight steps, landscaping features, and so on.  That makes sense – you wouldn’t want your plow company damaging property features that are hidden by snow.
  3. Information on markers.
    Benson says markers serve three purposes: they help snowplow operators find their customers’ driveways; they are a quick reminder of how to contact a contractor in case of a problem; and they’re great advertising. “I don’t think there is a single contractor out there that would deny that driveway markers are a vital form of direct marketing for their business,” says Benson. “And, while so many businesses in Ottawa are seasonally based the window of opportunity for advertising is very narrow, making the need for prominent advertising even more vital.  My request would be for the city of Ottawa to permit the contractor not just to include a logo and telephone number on driveway markers, but to include the company’s name prominently as well.  Small seasonal businesses employ a multitude of people in Ottawa each year and therefore are a vital part of each community.  If the government wants small businesses to thrive, why cut them off at the knees by fettering their ability to advertise as effectively as possible.”

Today’s the deadline for the public to send in comments to Leslie Charles at leslie.charles@ottawa.ca.


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