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Snow plows carve up your grass near the sidewalk? It isn’t your grass — and the city will fix it

With wintry weather about to settle in, along with snow, residents can expect sidewalk plows will start gouging up turf next to the sidewalk, like the damage to this boulevard on Fordover Drive. But the city will fix it in the spring if it's reported to 311.

Jack Lakey

By Jack LakeyContributing Columnist

Sun., Jan. 24, 20212 min. read

This land is your land, this land is my land … Or maybe the city’s, to damage and gouge, despite your efforts to keep it looking good.

We’ve had a soft ride so far this winter, with temperatures consistently above freezing and almost no snow, except for a couple of dumps before Christmas that melted away in a matter of days.

That’s about to change. The 14-day forecast shows mostly below-average temperatures with snow early next week, which will precipitate a mustering of peanut-pusher plows, as they call them in Montreal, to clear sidewalks.

Without consistent below-freezing temperatures, the ground has no frost in it. So whenever the sidewalk plows veer even slightly off-course, they’ll be peeling up turf on boulevards and manicured lawns.

That’s a source of aggravation for people who lovingly tend to the boulevard in front of their homes, along with the grass just inside the sidewalk.

Residents consider those strips of real estate to be part of their property and put substantial effort into maintenance, especially since a city bylaw requires them to keep it trimmed to a respectable level.

I have yet to receive any complaints from readers about turf damage from plows this winter, but I’ve seen some in my neighbourhood and know from past experience that they’ll start rolling in as soon as the snow blows in.

But here’s the thing: All boulevards and a strip of land on the homeowner side of the sidewalk are part of the municipal road allowance, which extends about 10 metres in either direction from the centre line of the road, on most residential streets.

Some people don’t realize it’s city property, which means sidewalk plows are not are damaging private property, no matter how infuriating it may be.

And mild temperatures make it even more likely that plows will gouge the not-frozen turf, instead of sliding over it, which will only make things worse.

But the city will fix the damage if it’s reported to 311, a darn good service, based on what readers tell me. A service request will be created by 311 and passed along to transportation services, which does an annual spring blitz of potholes and torn-up grass adjacent to sidewalks.

It will check out the damage and enlist contractors to lay sod over areas in need of repair. At that point it is punted back to the residents. Unless the sod is watered regularly, which may require soaking it for up to two months, it won’t catch.

If you’re ready to do the watering, the city is willing to do the fixing, so report it to 311 and get your hose ready.

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What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email jlakey@thestar.ca or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

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