Regina man with long-term disability says he’s ‘drowning’ and can’t pay city’s sidewalk clearing bill

Al Bodnarchuk says he can't afford the city of Regina's bill for snow removal.  (Samanda Brace/CBC News - photo credit)

Al Bodnarchuk says he can’t afford the city of Regina’s bill for snow removal. (Samanda Brace/CBC News – photo credit)

Two Regina residents say the city is too chilly in enforcing its new sidewalk cleaning ordinance.

In 2022, changes to Regina’s Clean Property Bylaw went into effect, requiring all property owners in the city to clear their own sidewalks and nearby sidewalks to the edges of the sidewalk and as close to the concrete as possible within 48 hours of a snowfall must .

After a year of issuing nothing but warnings to educate the public, this is the first winter the statute has been enforced.

Al Bodnarchuk said he’s now stuck on his property taxes with a $424 snow removal fee that he can’t afford.

Bodnarchuk said he was physically unable to shovel the snow in front of his corner lot in the Cathedral neighborhood due to multiple health conditions.

A neighbor had signed Bodnarchuk up for a Snow Angels program, where volunteers help people shovel. He was assigned someone and they cleared Bodnarchuk’s sidewalk, but he said it wasn’t good enough for the city. On January 9, he received a non-compliance notice with 48 hours to continue clearing the sidewalk.

He said he called the city to explain his situation.

“I told them, ‘I don’t have the money to get anyone to do it and I’m too sick to do it.’ And they said, “Well, you don’t have a choice. You have 48 hours. “They weren’t interested at all,” Bodnarchuk said.

Paid for the snow crew

The city sent a team to clean up the snow around Bodnarchuk’s property and charged the cost to his property tax. He said he was told he could pay it off in three installments.

Bodnarchuk said he was permanently disabled and could not afford any extra costs. He said other local businesses, like his insurance company, made adjustments to help him.

Submitted by Al Bodnarchuk

Submitted by Al Bodnarchuk

He said he’s concerned he may be cut off from using TIPPS, the city’s monthly online tax payment program.

“I fight like this [badly]. I am drowning. That’s the only way I can honestly say it. It’s a drowning feeling and there’s no life raft,” Bodnarchuk said.

“If you have to survive three weeks on a bag of potatoes because you have nothing to eat in the fridge, that’s the feeling of drowning.”

Bodnarchuk said he spoke to both the city and Andrew Stevens, his community’s councillor, and was not satisfied with the responses.

“I think the city should have anticipated that there will be people struggling with this and offering some sort of help. I mean, the Snow Angels program has been great, but they can’t handle the snow load we’re having this year,” said Bodnarchuk.

The city said the snow removal statute aims to create a more accessible city for everyone, whether on foot or using a mobility device.

If someone can’t shovel, it’s a good idea to reach out to family or friends, or sign up for a snow angel.

The city notes that there are 11 community organizations that offer volunteer-led Snow Angels programs.

Snow Angel tried

According to Linda Rattray, the Cathedral Area Community Association office manager, Bodnarchuk’s Snow Angels felt they had cleared the sidewalk appropriately.

Rattray said she was surprised and disappointed to hear Bodnarchuk was being charged for clearing snow while he had a snow angel.

“She felt like she was shoveling a wide enough path and doing her best. It was very difficult for them, especially with all the heavy snow we’ve had,” Rattray said.

The Cathedral Snow Angel program is volunteer based. Rattray said this year was the first year that there were more needy people than volunteers.

Rattray said Bodnarchuk now has a direct line to call his snow angel when needed.

Senior asks for help, ends with warning

Ted Jaleta said he called Councilwoman Cheryl Stadnichuk to see if the city could clear the snow left near his curb after plowing the road. Instead, it ended with a non-compliance warning.

He said the snow is making it difficult for him to safely leave his recycling and rubbish bins outside, and he’s worried the warm weather is clogging the drain under the snow.

As a senior, Jaleta said he was unable to clear the massive pile of snow and ice on his own.

Still, he said his sidewalks have enough clear path for people to walk through, but a city ordinance official handed him a notice on Feb. 7 about failure to clear snow on sidewalks.

Invited by Ted Jaleta

Invited by Ted Jaleta

“I was pretty confused and I didn’t really expect that,” said Jaleta. “That is not right.”

The next day he received a second notification of non-compliance.

Jaleta said no one came by to clear the snow, but if he’s going to be charged property taxes, he plans to seek legal advice.

“I didn’t feel respected as a taxpayer,” Jaleta said.

“I have the right to speak and speak up as a concerned citizen. … I expect my voice to be heard.”

He said he hopes the warning will be withdrawn and that he will receive an apology.

City council wants change

count. Andrew Stevens said that while he sympathizes with Bodnarchuk’s situation, he cannot remove the charges from his bill.

Stevens said the call got him thinking about what could be done to ensure this didn’t happen again.

“I’m not convinced that we have adequate support for residents with a real disability,” Stevens said.

“If they are physically unable to actually clear the sidewalk and open it to the public, I think we need to consider important resources and services to help them.”

He added that he believed that if the city were responsible for clearing the sidewalks of the main streets, the general statute might need to be changed.

When the winter snow removal budget is presented to the council, it plans to propose a revision of the bylaws.


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