This winter has been downright dangerous for Montrealers with reduced mobility.
For many, navigating the city’s slippery streets and sidewalks has been nothing short of a nightmare. Now, disability rights advocates are calling on the city to take more action to tackle the ice on its slippery sidewalks.
“We don’t go out,” said Laurent Morissette of disability rights group RAPLIQ. “There’s a high risk of getting stuck.”
Every time he leaves his house, Morissette feels he’s putting his life on the line. It’s not hard to see the safety hazard he faces as he struggles to navigate the city’s messy sidewalks.
Just last week, the 35-year-old got stuck in a pothole and had to wait for help.
“I had to wait five minutes before I could see someone to help me out,” Morissette told Global News.
According to RAPLIQ, an estimated 20,000 Montrealers use wheelchairs to get around. Many of them have compared this season to a prison sentence.
“Most of us will stay inside for three months, four months, the duration of the winter. We tend not to get out so often,” Morissette said.
“It’s better to stay inside,” said another wheelchair user, Jimmy Dion.
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Dion has been through three Montreal winters in a wheelchair and says nothing compares to what he’s been forced to deal with on icy sidewalks this year. He’s gotten stuck more than once.
“A couple of times, but people are often nice enough to help us,” Dion said.
Disability rights advocates have been calling on the city to do more for years and say this winter has underlined the urgent need for action.
“More funding and more real action, concrete action needs to be put forward,” said Morissette.
The mayor insists snow removal crews will be back on the road Monday night.
“We want to minimize the kind of lakes that happen at intersections so by taking the snow out, the streets will take pressure off the manholes and the sidewalks as well,” Valérie Plante said.
The biggest concern for people in wheelchairs is the slushy mess that will likely turn to ice overnight.
“If they could make it more easy with the ice — maybe more salt or more sand just to help us not slip when we get on the sidewalk — that would help,” Dion said.