Depending on where you live, you may be responsible for clearing sidewalks after it snows, and it has to be done by a certain time or you could get fined. Every year, without a doubt, I see a lot of locals up in arms on social media about the rules. Since we've started winter early with record breaking snowfall and cold temperatures, I thought I'd remind you of the rules for clearing sidewalks and dealing with winter in Missoula. And let you know what to do about your snow covered leaf piles.

Missoula law requires residents and businesses to clear your sidewalks of snow and ice by 9 a.m. after each snowfall, and you must keep them clear throughout the day. Anyone can notify the City at 552-6345 if a specific sidewalk has not been cleared, meaning you could end up with a notice to clear your sidewalk, which is followed up by a visit from a City official. If it's still not clear at that time, the property owner may be billed for a contractor to clear the sidewalk. So if you rent, your landlord or rental agency will likely pass those charges on to you. The minimum charge is a whopping $70, $29 per half hour of work, and a $41 admin fee.

Shoveling by 9 a.m. is a real pain in the ass when you're trying to get to work on time, but this is the price we pay to live in the greatest state in the nation. Here's some good news, it's probably easier than ever to find a teenager in your neighborhood who is available to be the designated shoveler since high school doesn't start 'til 10 a.m. due to the pandemic. And teens, get out there and hustle and make yourself some cash money!

When shoveling snow and ice off the sidewalks, it's also important to keep the mounds of snow out the bike lanes and roadways, as it is against City ordinance to block those areas. Keep in mind that chemical de-icers containing chloride could damage concrete surfaces. And I don't think I need to remind you to be neighborly and help your elders since you are a Montanan and are a good person.

If you need help clearing your sidewalks due to low income or disability, you can call Imagine Missoula at 406-748-6752 to see if you qualify for assistance.

City leaf collection begins on November 2nd, you can see what day yours will be picked up here. Note, if the weather is below 32 degrees, sweepers cannot operate. Missoula's street division hits both sides of the street and hauls an average of 1,000 dump truck loads of leaves to Garden City Compost, and spends around 2,500 hours collecting leaves each season. Aren't you glad those aren't going in the landfill!?

Rake your leaves, if you can find them in the snow, into the street prior to the first day of your scheduled collection. Don't park too close to the piles to make room for the loaders/scoopers. Common sense stuff, good luck, be awesome.

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