By Tim Schewe
No 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 of it 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 to his driveway. In what almost became more ways than one, he didn’t have a leg to stand on.
Not all of your driveway is yours
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 may need permission from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure if you live outside of a municipality. One term of that permission is that you 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 municipal bylaws are available on the internet these days, but information about your responsibilities may be obtained by contacting your local bylaw department. Remember that municipal bylaws may not be uniform throughout the province.
Responsibilities of rural road maintenance contractors
Rural road 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.
Leaving your snow on the road
One might be tempted to push all that snow right back out onto the road 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 a civil action for damages. The outcome of the civil suit could be very costly to you as it would not be covered by insurance.
The Transportation Act also forbids obstructing or preventing another person from engaging in any activity if that activity is authorized by the Act. Contracting out 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.