Snow Angel recruitment suffered amid pandemic

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Volunteers for the city’s “Snow Angel” program to help seniors and people with disabilities clear their driveways and sidewalks dropped by nearly 60 per cent this past cold season.

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A staff report going before city council on Monday says the pandemic “hampered” Snow Angel recruitment. Only 30 people volunteered from November 2021 to March 2022, a drop from 51 in the snowy season prior.

Although 267 residents indicated a need for a Snow Angel during the 2021/2022 season, the city was only able to accommodate 70, with volunteers willing to assist more than one resident.

“While the number may seem low, this is 70 residents that may have not otherwise been able to leave their home without the assistance of our volunteers,” the staff report said.

During the most recent Snow Angel season, the region’s total snowfall accumulation was 51.8 cm, a drop of less than a centimeter from the year before.

The city advertised incentives to attract volunteers, including a draw for a tablet or one of two $50 Rec Express Cards. The winners this year were Mohamad Al-Mosawi, Yousef Bazzi and Gordon Hartley, respectively.

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In addition to assisting seniors and people with disabilities, the program helps residents comply with a city bylaw that requires property owners and/or tenants to remove snow or ice from the front, side, and rear of their property within 12 hours of snowfall or ice formation.

“In order to assist seniors and persons with physical disabilities who historically have felt isolated in their own homes, the (city) co-ordinated a volunteer snow removal program as an innovative community partnership to promote a safe, caring and diverse community,” the report states.

The city’s Snow Angel program has been in place since 1999.

Volunteers must obtain police clearances, the fee for which is reimbursed by the city. They must also sign a waiver and complete the city’s health and safety orientation.

Anyone 16 years of age or older may volunteer. The work can count for a high school student’s 40 hours of required volunteer work.

More information is available on the city’s Snow Angels website.

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