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‘Practically a shut-in’: Montrealers with reduced mobility calling for better snow, ice removal

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Montrealers with reduced mobility calling for better snow, ice removal
WATCH: People with reduced mobility are once again drawing attention to winter travel problems. They are urging the city of Montreal administration to do better at clearing snow and ice so that people with disabilities can get around. Global's Phil Carpenter reports. – Feb 6, 2024

Montreal composer John Cody has enough to keep him occupied at home, but there have been days when he needed to go out and just couldn’t.

“In the last few years, the winters have been so bad that I’ve been practically a shut-in,” he told Global News.

Cody needs a wheelchair to get around and uses adapted transport. He says if the sidewalk ramps aren’t cleared, he’ll be in trouble.

“They’d have to let me off at the sidewalk or on the street because there’s no room and it’s not cleaned,” he said, adding that sometimes the bus has nowhere to stop for pickups.

As a result, people end up missing appointments, and worse, say Cody and others in his situation.

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“There’s people who have lost their job, who lost money because they can’t go to work,” explained disability rights advocate Martin Lalonde.

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Lalonde and others are calling on Montreal’s city administration to move faster on clearing access ramps on sidewalks for wheelchairs. The opposition in Montreal’s muncipal government says it made the same request five years ago.

According to Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough mayor and city opposition party member, Dimitrios Jim Beis, “we had asked at that time that the mayor look at, and be committed to adding a clause to all contracts for snow removal that the areas that we are talking about today, be prioritized and taken care of.”

The opposition is also asking that dedicated teams be tasked to clear those areas so that people don’t have to wait. It’s all things Beis says the administration agreed to do, but didn’t.

However, the city says it has begun. But Lachine borough mayor Maja Vodanovic, who’s also the administration’s executive committee member responsible for consultation with boroughs, claims there have been problems among the boroughs.

“The different contractors were doing it and everybody was doing it differently,” she told Global News, “and even if we said it was a priority, well, it wasn’t always happening the right way.”

Vodanovic says because of that the city plans to centralize the clearing of those zones next winter.

It will also use dedicated teams to keep those areas cleared. In addition, the size of the drop-off zones will be widened by fall of this year to ensure they can be cleared using existing equipment.

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