Snow Removal

February 2018

Despite global warming, snow and winter are unlikely to disappear.

When it comes to snow and deicing during the winter months condo corporations can choose between two approaches.  Some choose to handle snow clearing and deicing internally.  Others will employ outside contractors to provide these services.

When snow- and ice-related measures are handled by condo employees other concerns may take precedence over snow clearing or deicing.  Employing a contractor to handle these services may provide better service plus protection against liability.  Snow clearing and deicing handled by a contractor can result in fewer disruptions for residents or of regular maintenance duties during times of heavy snow or ice.

One factor driving the decision how to handle snow clearing and deicing is liability for slip-and-falls.  Poor snow clearing and failure to deice are important considerations.  Another is the internal risk when walking on common area floors.  For this it can be helpful to cover floor surfaces to absorb melting snow and ice.  It is in a condo corporation’s interest to minimize the risk of slip-and-falls.  In addition to injury, litigation arising from slip-and-falls can drive up insurance costs and increase deductibles.

During winter months condo residents and management should remove lawn decorations that could be hidden by snow and possibly damaged when snow is cleared or moved.

Planning for winter snow clearing and deicing should begin by June.  It takes time to obtain quotes, sign contracts and hire staff.  There may even be discounts for early signing of contracts which may allow contractors to purchase supplies and equipment in advance of price increases.

Hiring professionals to handle snow clearing, deicing and internal floor coverings during winter months helps to ensure work is done promptly.  Should someone be injured because of improperly cleared snow or poorly deiced walkways, liability may be transferred to the contractor.

Snow clearing contracts can be priced as a fixed fee for the season, per snowfall or per-inch-per storm.

Condo corporations handling snow and deicing without contractors will need to purchase supplies.  These supplies should be stored under a roof or in a space with air flow protected from moisture and sun.

Snow clearing and deicing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.  Higher-priced contractors can offer more experience, faster response, reliability, better service and increased protection against damage or slip-and-falls.

Some contractors may apply deicing products prior to a snowfall.  This allows an initial coating of snow to melt so it can be pushed away by plows more likely to leave bare pavement behind.  Proper clearing leaves a minimum of slush which can build up, re-freeze and be harder to clear.

Deicing is the most effective way to prevent slip-and-falls.  For this reason it makes sense to spend more on these products rather than risk slip-and-fall situations.