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Snowfall causes mobility issues for people with disabilities

Watch above: Saskatoon residents and motorists are having a tough time slogging through the snow dumped on the city overnight. Amber Rockliffe finds out how those already challenged by mobility issues are getting around.

SASKATOON – It’s been a frustrating day for many drivers trying to navigate their way through the snow, but for seniors and people with disabilities, getting outside after a big snowfall is even more exasperating. Liz Vandenheuval uses a walker to get around and said even a simple task like shopping carries risk.

“It’s treacherous. It’s slippery on the roadways, sidewalks – not everybody shovels all at the same time, so if you’re travelling through the sidewalks you have a tough time,” she explained.

Read more: Forgot to clear your sidewalk? You could be fined

Taking Access Transit requires advanced booking, and Vandenheuval said trying to have some freedom and flexibility gets costly.

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“You take a taxi, and the rates keep going up for obvious reasons, and taking the city bus – it’s a little cumbersome getting one of these inside,” Vandenheuval explained, pointing to her walker.

Cosmopolitan Industries said many people with disabilities find getting to work after a big snowfall daunting.

“Today, as an example, we probably have about 30 to 40 of our 400 participants that have chosen to stay home because of the weather,” explained Randine Graf, Cosmo’s program division manager.

Graf said that can be isolating for participants.

“If you’ve ever been at Cosmo, you’ll see that all 400 of our people love to come to work, so staying home is a very sad day for them,” Graf explained.

For half a decade, Len Boser has been advocating for stricter bylaw enforcement for sidewalk clearing, but he said it’s been an uphill battle.

“It’s unfortunate, but nothing is done, and sidewalks don’t get cleared,” he explained.

Boser also chooses to stay home after a heavy snowfall, rather than risk his safety. He said he’s lucky to have his wife help him run errands, but said many aren’t so lucky.

“I think there are people who need the interaction of others to break up the boredom of the day, and depression can be easily acquired just by being alone in your suite for a day or two,” Boser explained.

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Boser, Vandenheuval, and many others are reminding people that the simple act of shovelling a sidewalk can make a world of difference for people with mobility challenges.

Read more: Winter safety: should you be shovelling the snow?

One of Saskatoon’s bylaws states that residential sidewalks must be clear of snow and ice within 48 hours of a snowfall.

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