A resident of Hamilton’s Crown Point neighborhood says he’s been feeling the pain from the 50 cm of snow dropped as a result of last Monday’s storm.
It’s been a week and Allan Bedford says despite being a healthy, middle-aged man, he had challenges navigating through some many commonly-traveled passages in the city center.
“It’s not like you’re climbing over this ushlush sand dune that is easy and soft, they are some really craggy snowdrifts and ice,” Bedford told Global News.
“You have to either go over or you backtrack to where you can find access to the street.”
Much of Hamilton, Niagara Region saw between 40 to 50 cm during snow storm
In a series of tweets on Monday, the Hamilton resident showed ramped sidewalk corners which he says in many areas have been “impassable” due to as much as a meter of snow piled up.
He believes the issue is likely a combination of cars parked in snow routes, plows compensating avoiding vehicles with wide turns and residents turning a blind eye when looking at the mountain of white stuff.
“When the temperature dropped at the end of last week, these piles that are at the corners get walked through over and over again,” Bedford said.
“Those piles that you could sort of mush through if you had good mobility are now chunked and caked with ice that is frozen into an unwalkable mess.”
The director of media relations for Ontario’s Disability Coalition says another issue he sees is the depth at which plows actually clear snow on a given route.
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Anthony Frisina says plows tend to leave a few millimeters of snow and ice above the cement or pavement, creating hazardous situations for everybody, not just people with disabilities.
With the city hosting a high percentage of persons with disabilities per capita – higher than national averages – Frisina says they need to get down deeper with their sweep.
“We just need to be more proactive in clearing properly down to the cement, down to the asphalt, down to the clear paving so that anybody can get around at equally and make enough space for larger mobility devices,” Frisina told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.
City staff told Global News they have endured complaints from close to 450 residents over snow-covered sidewalks since last week’s storm.
Alternatively, bylaw officers issued more than 100 violations for residents accused of not clearing walkways within 24 hours of the winter storm’s end.
The city currently clears snow from about 400 kilometers of sidewalk, mainly around schools and municipal facilities.
Starting in the winter of 2022-2023, a new contractor will clear an additional 469 kilometers of sidewalk along transit routes and near schools, whenever there is 5 cm or more of snowfall.
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Until that initiative launches, Hamilton residents will have to shovel sidewalks for the remainder of this winter.
Debates over Hamilton’s snow-clearing plans for sidewalks have lingered for years, with the most recent one spanning early 2020 to the end of 2021 when councilors shared stories from constituents at a number of committees and council meetings.
Cost has been the primary issue with estimates as high as $ 5.3 million – $ 16 per year for the average homeowner – if the city cleared all 2,403 kilometers of sidewalk across Hamilton.
In November 2020, director of transportation operations Edward Soldo told city councilors that the municipality was not in a position to start providing the service that winter, since they had neither the staffing nor the required equipment.
“We would have to go back out to the industry, and put out a request for proposal to actually hire that contracted equipment,” a process that would take several months, Soldo said.
Last April, Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann argued current rules, requiring residents to clear sidewalks around their properties within 24 hours after a snow event, are not working “consistently.”
An enhanced sidewalk snow-clearing motion, brought forward by Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson, was approved that month by city council despite the public works committee defeating the same idea the week before.
The added cost of the new contract is in the neighborhood of $ 2.3 million, or an average of $ 12 annually per household.
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