Knowing your local snow clearing bylaws may not be cool, but it’s necessary

Winter is coming, and with it the one chore that many homeowners dread: shoveling their snowy sidewalks and driveways.

And while snow removal is often the last thing homeowners want to do on a chilly winter day, officials say it is important in protecting the public’s safety.

“Sidewalks need to be kept clean for public safety, [and] a snow removal bylaw shares that responsibility without adding to municipal costs,” said Charlene Ruttle, Cochrane’s manager of municipal enforcement.

“It’s important that everyone take responsibility for and contribute to community safety.”

While snow removal bylaws in Calgary and the surrounding area do not follow a one-size-fits-all theme, they do share some similarities. For example, snow removal bylaws in Calgary and neighbouring municipalities place the onus of clearing snow from residential walkways and sidewalks on homeowners or tenants.

The bylaws in these areas also prohibit residents from transferring accumulated snow and snow-related debris from their sidewalks or driveways onto roads or public places adjacent to their property.

There are also differences between municipalities. For example, not all municipalities give their citizens the same amount of time to clear snow after a snowfall. Longtime Airdrie resident Angela DuQuesnay didn’t know that, like Okotoks and Calgary, her city allotted for a 24-hour time period of snow clearing.

Instsead, she thought Airdrie’s snow clearing time period was double that, as is the case with communities like Cochrane and Chestermere, where residents are given a bit more time to avoid the cold and snuggle up indoors before having to dig out their snow shovels.

Penalties are another area in which differences between regional snow removal bylaws stack up. Residents of both Okotoks and Cochrane face potential fines in these scenarios. In Cochrane, this could be compounded by the addition of potential jail time of up to six months.

Meanwhile, communities such as Chestermere, Calgary, and Airdrie implement a system wherein failure to clear snow on residential properties may result in local officials using work forces to clear the snow and ice, and expense the associated costs to homeowners. If unpaid, these costs can then be tacked on to the owners’ property taxes.

Officials encourage homeowners and renters to familiarize themselves with municipal bylaws in their respective communities.

As for DuQuesnay, while she “hates” shoveling snow, she’s always quick to reward herself afterward.

“It’s back-breaking work,” she DuQuesnay. “If you get it done, you can do whatever you want afterwards. You’ve earned it.”


Sometimes, it is difficult to see the potential in used furniture pieces. That’s why people will go out and buy new – we look at a used item and we see it looks old and tired or dusty and dirty.

Here are a few simple ideas that can help you rejuvenate, customize and repurpose the old furniture you have or the used items you have purchased.

1. Clean it

Although cleaning an old piece of furniture can take a bit of elbow grease, you may be amazed to see what you find simply by giving an item a good cleaning. That old, faded outdoor patio set might look new with a good power wash and scrub with soap and water.

But be mindful of the materials you are cleaning and what products are safe to be used. Make sure you do your research on what cleaning products work best for the materials you are cleaning. Although vinegar may be great for cleaning a window or mirror, it can quickly and easily stain a marble countertop. You can quickly ruin the finish and the overall integrity of materials such as wood and stone, so do your research before you start cleaning.

2. Paint it/stain it

Painting an old dresser can dramatically change the entire look of the piece. Paint is generally an inexpensive, easy and fast fix that can create a beautiful result.

There are a variety of different finishes and painting techniques that allow you to be creative with your own sense of style. Choosing to paint a dresser turquoise may not be everyone’s choice, but it may be just the dramatic punch you have been looking for.

If you would like to enhance the grain of a wood piece as opposed to covering it, staining is a better option. Test a few stain variations before you apply it to the piece – removing a stain that turned out too dark can be near impossible. If you simply want to treat the wood and bring it back to its natural beauty, try a furniture balm as they are the most gentle way to restore and refurbish tired-looking wood.

3. Repurpose it

When making a change around the house, think outside of the box. An old dresser can make a gorgeous one-of-a-kind vanity, or even a unique table for your entryway. An old door can easily be repurposed into a great desk by simply adding some table legs. The old night stand you found at a yard sale might just be the perfect living room side table. Let your mind be creative about which furniture items can be used in every room of your house.

Before buying new, use your imagination when it comes to your old furniture. You may find with a little creativity and a little effort you already have what you’ve been looking for all along.


With discussions continuing to swirl around Calgary being an attractive location for foreign homebuyers, CREB®Now contributor Alex Frazer-Harrison sat down with three local experts to get their opinions on what the future holds for the city’s housing market.

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark D. Evernden, private office advisor and owner with Engel & Völkers in Alberta

Calgary will continue to be attractive to foreign investors due in part to the value of local properties, said Evernden.


“It’s perceived value,” he said. “Remember, they (foreign investors) trade with the U.S. dollars. So out of the gate, you’re in a strong position because it’s a 25-per cent discount right now.”

He added the lack of a tax on foreign homebuyers such as that applied in Vancouver is also an attraction. Earlier this year, the B.C. government imposed a 15 per cent land transfer tax on real estate purchases by foreign buyers in the province’s most populated city.

This month, Evernden will represent Engel & Völkers as part of an Alberta and Calgary economic development mission to China, visiting Shanghai, Guangzhou and Yantai.

“These are the largest growth markets and wealthiest regions based on economic strength,” he said, adding Europe is also showing interest in Calgary real estate; he recently held meetings in Rome.

“There’s a huge opportunity there, as well.”

ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch

Calgary’s housing market has traditionally been overshadowed by other Canadian cities because of location and accessibility, said Hirsch. Yet he expects that to gradually change among foreign homebuyers over the next five years.

“I think Calgary has lived under the shadow of cities like Vancouver and Toronto,” said Hirsch. “When we’re talking about foreign homebuyers, a lot of them are Asian investors, and Vancouver has more naturally been attractive because it was seen as a natural go-to city for a lot of Asian investment in real estate.”


Calgary will begin to become more attractive, in part, due to the newly expanded international airport, “and house prices are so much more affordable than either Vancouver or Toronto.”

Hirsch added the current economic downturn in Calgary isn’t likely to impact investors who aren’t planning to flip homes.

“If you’re looking to purchase real estate as an investment and not flipping, you won’t be a sensitive to the timing of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hirsch dispelled the notion that Canada’s slumping dollar might attract more American buyers.

“There might be some (investors) from the ’States with the relatively stronger U.S. dollar and the U.S. economy in better shape, but Americans don’t tend to be real estate investors as much as they are in China,” he said.

“A lot of the reasons why investors in China are looking offshore (is because) there are questions and concerns about Chinese banks and having some assets stranded in China, and they want to diversify. There aren’t that many worries about U.S. investors.

“Calgary has a lot of things going on from a real estate-investment perspective. It’s a young city with modern infrastructure and it’s got a major international airport, so there are a lot of easy connections that could be attractive for foreign homebuyers.”

Calgary Economic Development president and CEO Mary Moran

Calgary’s relatively stable housing market is an attraction for foreign buyers, said Moran.


“Because of our status as an energy centre, major companies have major operations here and constantly move people in and out of Calgary,” she said.

“(We don’t) have the same issues with an overheated real estate market from foreign buyers as cities like Toronto or Vancouver. In fact, given housing prices, it’s one of the selling points that we have when we are attracting companies to Calgary.”

Looking ahead, Moran said while CED doesn’t forecast future markets, “we do know that, after two years of recession in Alberta, we’re widely forecast for growth in access of two per cent in 2017 and that will support the real-estate sector.”