‘Deplorable every year’: Accessibility advocate in Halifax calls for better sidewalk clearing

Click to play video: 'HRM residents left frustrated with snow-clearing efforts'
HRM residents left frustrated with snow-clearing efforts
WATCH: Many residents in the Halifax area say the sidewalks in their communities still aren't safe, 48 hours after a Nor'easter slammed the region. As Graeme Benjamin reports, accessibility advocates are calling for more to be done. – Jan 31, 2022

An accessibility advocate says the municipality continues to drop the ball when it comes to snow-clearing following major winter events.

“I don’t know exactly what needs to change, but I just know things do,” said Brian George, who uses a wheelchair and has been advocating for safer sidewalks in Halifax for the past seven years. “It’s deplorable every year. It is. It happens every single year.”

Saturday’s Nor’easter brought more than 40 centimetres of snow to some areas of the province. The snow shifted to rain and ice pellets later in the day, making snow-clearing efforts especially difficult.

Many residents took to social media over the past 48 hours to voice their frustrations with the current state of the sidewalks.

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“It’s frustrating,” said north-end Halifax resident Steve MacKay. “You can’t expect perfection, but what we’re getting is far from that. We can expect a bit more.”

In Cole Harbour ice remains the main concern. Local resident Paige Hoveling says the sidewalks in her local community haven’t been properly cleared, making for a slippery walk to school for her and her five-year-old son.

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“What I’d really appreciate is if they could look at some of the sidewalks around the school that all the kids use to get there and make sure that they’re up to the standards that are directly in front of the school,” said Hoveling.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotians cleaning up after major winter storm'
Nova Scotians cleaning up after major winter storm

But in Dartmouth, some of the sidewalks haven’t been cleared at all. Local resident Barbara MacDonald was left shovelling the sidewalk outside her home on Monday, which has since turned to ice.

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“We used to have really good clearance here. They used to come right away because this is a major route to get to a hospital, but it just seems like the last couple storms, it’s been two or three days before our street’s been done,” said MacDonald.

The Halifax Regional Municipality says, all things considered, snow-clearing efforts are going well.

“Work is ongoing in all areas,” said Klara Needler, spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality. “Crews won’t stop until all areas have been addressed, so the municipality continues to ask for the residents’ patience as crews continue to address all areas.”

Click to play video: 'Frustration growing in Halifax over slippery sidewalks'
Frustration growing in Halifax over slippery sidewalks

According to the city’s 2021-22 budget, approximately $30 million has been allocated to this year’s snow-clearing operations. Klara Needler added that all in-house and snow operations crews take part in mandatory accessibility training.

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“They go around in wheelchairs in icy conditions to try and get a sense of things they should be looking out for that they may not have otherwise thought of,” said Needler.

But George says they need to do more, because the current state of sidewalks is simply unsafe.

“Maybe Halifax needs to look at other areas and see what they’re doing and do the same thing,” George says.

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