Winter and Homeowner Obligations in Hamilton
In Ontario, winter conditions can be treacherous. Homeowners should turn their minds to snow- and ice-clearing, and the obligations imposed on them by Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act (“OLA”).
Section 3 of the OLA requires homeowners to take reasonable care to ensure that people entering, and on, their property are reasonably safe while on the property. In the winter, this means shoveling snow, clearing ice, and sanding/salting on the property as conditions dictate.
But what about the adjacent municipal sidewalk (which is not part of the homeowner’s property)?
Here in Hamilton, By-law No. 03-296 requires homeowners to clear all snow and ice from municipal sidewalks within 24 hours after any snow or freezing rain. If they do not do so, they may be subject to a penalty under the Provincial Offences Act. Many Ontario municipalities have similar By-laws.
That said, as the Ontario Court of Appeal held in Bongiardina v Vaughan (City), a homeowner will generally not be held civilly liable for injuries on improperly-cleared adjacent municipal sidewalks.
There are some exceptions to this general rule. One of these exceptions (relevant to homeowners) is that a homeowner could be held civilly liable for injuries suffered on adjacent municipal sidewalks where conditions on their property flow off their property and create a hazard on an adjacent sidewalk that causes an injury. For example, in Brazzoni v Timmins (City), a property owner was found to be partially civilly liable when water from melting snow from the property roof and parking lot flowed across a nearby sidewalk, forming ice that caused an injury. Similarly, in Ellington v Castles, a property owner was found to be partially liable when water from a downspout on their property flowed onto a nearby sidewalk, forming a sheet of ice that caused an injury.
While a slip and fall can be instantaneous the impact can be life altering. Recovery and rehabilitation can be long, painful and ongoing. If you, or someone you know has sustained personal injury as the result of an extreme weather situation contact The Morris Law Group for assistance. We are available to discuss your legal rights and options.
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