The Ups and Downs of Snow Removal in Condo Communities

Blizzards are an inevitable part of living in Alberta. In a province where the lowest temperature on record is an ultra-frigid -61.1 degrees Celsius, unpleasant winter weather is inescapable— and with it comes the trouble of snow removal.

For condo owners and boards, in particular, snow and ice removal can be a sore point. Since condo communities typically have large, congested parking lots and multiple walkways, the need for timely and adequate snow removal services is critical.

This is why it is important to strategically negotiate snow removal contracts while also being aware of the limitations and contributing factors that can impact condo snow removal schedules.

We encourage all Alberta condo owners to familiarize themselves with the points below.

Common Questions About Condo Snow and Ice Removal

1.     What options do condo boards have in terms of snow removal contracts?

When determining how snow and ice will be managed, condo boards and property management companies generally have three options:

  • Rehiring the same vendor they used during the previous winter season (not going out to tender)
  • Asking three businesses to submit service proposals (going out to tender)
  • Opting to handle snow and ice removal in-house

When selecting the third option, boards and management companies should be cautious regarding liability. When delegating these responsibilities to tenants or board members, the board or individual tenants could be held financially responsible should a resident be injured in an ice or snow-related accident.

2.     What should condo boards be aware of when negotiating snow removal contracts?

One of the primary fine print details to look out for is hidden costs. In the majority of cases, services like ice melting, off-site snow hauling, and parking lot sanding are an additional expense.

It is also important to consider the frequency of service you require. Are you seeking continuous, on-going condo snow removal? Or are you more concerned about post-snowstorm services? Determining exactly what your needs are will make it easier to negotiate a contract that works within your budget while also ensuring the level of service you need.

3.     What should I do if I notice condo snow and ice isn’t being removed in a timely manner?

It is frustrating for all residents when parking lots, walkways, and other areas remain buried in  snow and ice for extended periods of time. But before contacting your condo board or property management company, there are a few factors that must be taken into account.

Firstly, City of Calgary bylaws state that snow must be removed within 24 hours of snowfall stopping or once every 24 hours during continuous snowfall. This means that snow may accumulate in your condo community for multiple hours— and while this is certainly inconvenient, it is not cause for a formal complaint.

Secondly, snow removal companies do not allow clients to book snow removal slots. Jobs are completed based on a predetermined route that is most efficient for the snow plow driver. While many tenants would prefer a consistent schedule when it comes to snow plowing for condo properties, this simply isn’t possible given the nature of the business.

And last but not least, there is a formal process which Alberta condo owners are encouraged to follow when making a snow removal complaint. This process includes:

  • Taking photos of snow accumulation to accompany the complaint
  • Reporting the problem to their condo board or property manager in writing
  • Keeping a record of all correspondence with condo board members or property management professionals
  • Only reporting a municipal bylaw infraction if their condo board or property manager has been notified and has failed to address the concern within a reasonable timeframe

Final Thoughts

A certain degree of patience is required when dealing with condo snow and ice. When your local forecast calls for extreme weather, it is best to prepare for a 24-hour snow accumulation period. However, the safety of residents is always a top priority. If you have considered the stipulations above and feel there is a valid concern regarding snow and ice removal in your condo community, never wait to report it to your board or property management team.

Are you in need of an experienced, industry-leading property management company to oversee snow removal and other vendor agreements on behalf of your condo community? We can help. Get in touch today!