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March 6, 2013

Amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards - Part 4

This week we continue our review of the amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards, which came into effect on January 25, 2013.

Part 4:  New Snow Accumulation Standard
The MMS previously required municipalities to clear snow within a prescribed number of hours after becoming aware of the fact that specified snow accumulation depths were reached.  This part of the standard is essentially unchanged, though it now requires municipalities to “address” snow accumulation and “reduce the snow depth” rather than “clear” the snow.   
However, there have been several additions to the standard.  The most significant addition is a provision which states that if the depth of snow accumulation on a roadway is less than or equal to the specified depth for that class of roadway, “the roadway is deemed to be in a state of repair with respect to snow accumulation”.  This provision is clearly intended to address the restrictive interpretation of the snow accumulation standard in Giuliani and should provide municipalities with a strong defence in cases where the standard is met.  The standard also sets out how the depth of snow accumulation on a roadway may be determined and how it may be addressed. 
The requirement that municipalities address snow accumulation after becoming aware of it must be read in conjunction with the constructive knowledge provision in section 1 of the MMS, which provides that a municipality is deemed to be aware of a fact if circumstances are such that the municipality ought reasonably to be aware of the fact.

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