News

Gavel: Fast, Mobile-Optimized City Of Hamilton Bylaw Complaints

By Adrian Duyzer
Published February 08, 2013

A few weeks ago, Jason Leach wrote a blog post where he said that clearing the snow from sidewalks should be seen as important as clearing snow from roadways.

This is a massive public safety nightmare potentially facing the city. Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured. Dundurn Street already has crazy narrow sidewalks between King and Main, and now half the sidewalk is filled with the snowbank from the road.

I agree with Jason: this is a critical, and often-neglected issue, whenever there is a major snowstorm.

Fortunately, the City of Hamilton has an online complaint form you can use to submit a complaint when sidewalks aren't cleared within 24 hours of snowfall. And fortunately, the City's bylaw complaint department is fast and responsive - they just need help finding the issues that we're experiencing.

Unfortunately, the City's form doesn't remember your personal information, so it takes a long time to fill out each time. And it doesn't work well on mobile devices, either.

That's why I created Gavel, a mobile-optimized version of the complaint form that lets you save your information (in local storage on your device - no personal information is collected by me in the app) and easily submit it to the City's website.

Gavel isn't quite ready for prime-time: it doesn't work on Android devices at the moment, just on iOS devices. It's also not entirely rock solid and does suffer from a few issues from time to time. But with a snowfall this big, I just couldn't keep holding onto it. Besides, it's open source, written in Ruby using Sinatra. Get it working on Android and submit a pull request and I'll update the app right away!

Please let me know if you experience issues in the comments and I'll see what I can do to get it fixed up. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes the City safer for pedestrians.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

14 Comments

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2013 at 17:53:30

Thanks for this, Adrian!

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2013 at 21:57:32

I hope someone complains about the sidewalk in front of my house, where the city snow plow came around and filled in the sidewalk I had already cleared.

I'll tell the city where they can put their ticket.

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By MiniWheat (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 08:13:44 in reply to Comment 86105

Same happened on our street. Tool forever to dig it out and the Plow filled it in again. Please complain about me. I'd love another chat with the warm cozy City Employee city at a desk drinking coffee while I am covered in snow

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 00:09:47

I tell you exactly who needs to get hit with some stiff fines for this crap. The parking lots in the city! So many of them are plowed but have unplowed sidewalks.

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By downvotes (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 15:04:32 in reply to Comment 86109

Why would anyone downvote that comment?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:12:36 in reply to Comment 86120

The very odd RTH commenter will downvote comments out of sheer spite.

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By Priority (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 11:58:02

If pedestrians really were the priority that City policies pretend, sidewalks would be plowed before roadways. I saw more people walking down the middle of our street yesterday than cars on it.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 17:47:09 in reply to Comment 86116

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By cynic (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 15:07:16

Just walked own the king east near Emerald the cops should really clear the snow and ice in front of their storefront station.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 20:39:17

Adrian: what a splendid idea.

My wish list, from obvious (and likely in the works) to a bit far-fetched

  1. Release an Android version.
  2. Create the ability to save frequently used addresses and complaints, in order to permit one-click reporting of frequent litter/snow offenders.
  3. Link the software to a weather app so I can tell it to automatically report the parking lot on King William between Mary and Catharine 24 hours after each snowfall. (In four years, I have never seen them once clear their sidewalks.)

John

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 22:57:17

Awesome stuff Ade!!

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By Janice (registered) | Posted February 10, 2013 at 08:33:50

Great Tool.....Durand would post on its website. Lots of complaints in the Durand with snow plow operators putting snow back onto cleared sidewalks and corners in our downtown neighbourhoods that are not cleared creating a very dangerous situation to cross streets. With so many seniors and walkers in our downtown, one would think those bob cats would be out with the plows.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted February 12, 2013 at 18:49:07

Great idea - and well done.

A side note: by Monday afternoon, the city-maintained stretches of Sterling were still not cleared. And Sterling ihas lots of pedestrian traffic - most of which was on the bike lanes on Monday.

Who does the city fine in such a circumstance?

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By Tinfoilhat (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 13:53:23

This year the city contractors have been plowing snow from the road back on to cleared sidewalks all over our ward (6) I think they are doing it on purpose so that the city will start plowing sidewalks and this contactor will make more money doing that. and our property taxes will skyrocket. Don't just complain here, it does so little, call your councillor and tell them.......they won't do a thing unless they hear from lots of people.

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