Have you fallen or tripped on City of Vancouver sidewalk? What are your rights and what can you do to ensure others don’t have that same experience?

Three recent graduates of Langara’s journalism school, Nathan Durec, Roxanne Egan-Elliott* and Mandy Moraes have done some investigative work on why sidewalks are the way they are, and what citizens can do about them as reported in the Vancouver Sun.

These three journalists point out that many people hurt themselves by tripping and falling on city sidewalks, and that “there is a a public lack of knowledge about recourse when it comes to injuries caused by sidewalks. It also highlights what some advocates say is infrastructure sorely neglected by the city and a maintenance system that may not be adequately serving the public’s needs, leading to questions about liability.”

The City’s 2,200 kilometers of sidewalks are the beginning of almost every journey in the City. Walking is identified as the ” top transportation priority” to accommodate increasing density in the city. But, as these three journalists write, while the City’s budget for 2019 has allotted 9 million dollars for bikeways and 8 million dollars for arterial road repaving, only 1.75 million dollars has been set aside for new sidewalk construction. Less than 800,000 is available to repatch existing sidewalks. Sidewalks with priority for work are in commercial areas or along bus routes.

Sidewalks provide the basic way of movement for people on foot and using mobility assists.Sidewalks need to be designed for all users, and highlight accessibility and comfort and convenience. But as Duke of Data  and Director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program states ” It’s an overlooked form of infrastructure. I mean, one hopes it’s seen as a form of central infrastructure.”

If you fall on a sidewalk, you should report it to your municipality.

In Vancouver you can use the VanConnect app call 311 or notify the city through the city’s website. There is a standard of care that municipalities must maintain in order for sidewalks to be safely used. In Vancouver’s case the city has a Risk Management Department that assesses physical claims of broken bones on sidewalks, while the Engineering Department ascertains what work that sidewalk requires to be be safe for other users.

Vancouver has an “inspection team” in the public realm that reviews every sidewalk and ” identifies any cracks or bumps that could present hazards. “

And here’s something interesting~”The policy states that any sidewalk hazards that measure over one inch are scheduled to be repaired within seven days.”

You can read the whole article here.

You can also take a look at the YouTube video below with Engineer Rhys Williams talking about rubber sidewalks, which were installed as a trial  in the 400 block of East 17th Avenue. That installation was almost a decade ago.

*Roxanne Egan-Elliott’s name may be familiar to Price Tags readers~her father is Daniel Egan who is the Bicycle Planner for the City of Toronto, and her grandfather, Maurice Egan, is acknowledged as the father of social planning in Canada.


  1. Our block has cherry trees whose roots wreak havoc on the sidewalk. Hillocks.
    A few years ago, city crews ripped out some sidewalk and replaced it with asphalt. So ugly.
    This year they dealt with another piece and replaced it with aesthetic concrete. Nice.
    Who makes these decisions?
    If there’s a substantial cost difference, when it comes time for our section – likely, and knew when it was going to happen, I’d be willing to pony up the extra and go for concrete.
    I wonder, too, about ants. These little nasties move concrete – grain by grain of sand. There’s a recent excellent sidewalk installed on Nootka just above Grandview Highway – an area btw where virtually no one walks. It won’t be long before the the sidewalk buckles. Is there an underlay that ants can’t carry or get through?

  2. The City can grind down sidewalk joints where one section has raised up relative to the adjacent section.
    You see that in many places downtown.
    That’s an easy fix without the cost, expense and obstruction created by pouring a new sidewalk section.
    The newly exposed concrete will become dirty over time and blend with the older parts.

    1. There has been no grinding of joints in our area – wouldn’t work – the bumps are palm high; which is why you can’t plant those cherry trees anymore. The roots are too aggressive. Workers just lather asphalt on top. Fun for kids on bikes; for wheelchairs and walkers not so much.

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