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Threats on Calgary sidewalks over snow removal, says company upset about lack of awareness

Early morning snow clearing is causing confrontations on Calgary sidewalks, says Nicholas Stainsby, the owner of Wipe Clean Window Clearing.

“When a neighbour or somebody else comes out and tries to fight a member of our team or have words with them that aren’t very nice, it makes it hard for me, especially when I’m trying to provide a safe place to work, and my guys don’t feel safe when they are out there early in the morning.”

Stainsby says things have been getting worse, not better. He says the latest incident occurred after the snowfall a week ago Sunday when crews were out early and neighbours objected to the noise.

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“We start our routes as early as 5 a.m. when it snows. Everybody wants us out there (as) early as possible to make sure their properties are accessible,” he explained.

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“We had people come out, threaten us: ‘If you come back here, if I see you, you are done.’ We had a neighbour come out and threaten to steal our truck.”

The City of Calgary does have a bylaw that provides a 48-hour noise exemption, once it stops snowing, to provide for safety and accessibility on city sidewalks. It specifically names leaf and snow blowers, like the ones used by Stainsby’s 15 employees, as being allowed to operate during those 48 hours to remove snow and ice.

But he says even the city gets confused.

“We’ve talked to the city before. We have actually had complaints from the city. But we talked to the city, and they’ve said, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t have sent that bylaw notice to you because you were operating within the 48-hour notice.’”

The City of Calgary was unable to respond Monday to questions about the bylaw.

Stainsby says he is going public because he wants more awareness and less hostility before someone carries out a senseless threat.

“We don’t want somebody to get hurt because they are trying to shovel Mrs. Smith’s snow.”

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