Winter sidewalk clearance causes concern 

By Sue Tiffin

Joe Carriere said trying to find parking in downtown Haliburton that would allow for his wife to safely exit the car and not have to then climb over a snowbank gave him such grief that he reached out with his concerns.

Carriere said he and wife Connie Reevely who live on Loon Lake Road are both seniors frustrated with the buildup of snow on the sidewalks. Carriere wrote to Mayor Andrea Roberts and the editor of this paper prior to the holidays.

“The fact that as seniors both my wife and I are well over 70 and when you go into town to try to do the shopping as they were requesting just before Christmas the BIA had an ad on one of the local radio stations to shop locally” he said. “Well you try to shop locally and you’ll break your neck trying to climb over the snowbanks that the sidewalk plows push over to the curb.”

Carriere said it’s frustrating to see people struggling to get over the snowbanks or to have to walk up the street with mobility equipment and oxygen tanks in order to find a clear entrance from the road onto the sidewalk. The problem is one that causes people to fill parking spaces at local businesses they aren’t necessarily visiting he said or to avoid shopping downtown altogether.

“If you’ve got a passenger and you want them to be able to get out so they can even get over the snowbank you’ve got to park out into the driving lane and the driving lane is getting narrower all the time” he said.

Carriere said the problem has been ongoing and it’s making him consider wanting to move out of the area saying “I’ve had enough winter up here.”

Snow buildup on the sidewalks and its impact on people’s mobility has been identified as a concern of the Aging Well Committee in the past.

“Some business owners try to keep a path open from the parking spots to the sidewalk and this is a great help but in years where there is a large accumulation of snow it becomes difficult to know where to move the snow to so it doesn’t just relocate the problem from one location to another” said Doreen Boville of the AWC. “Also because keeping a pathway open places an added responsibility on the business owners not all of them are able to maintain this practice.”

Boville said she was aware that some Aging Well members have personally had difficulties getting around downtown because of the snow accumulation.

“Ideally if the municipality could remove the snow accumulation more frequently the less snow the business owners would have to deal with and hopefully the more willing they would be to help keep the paths from the parking spots to the sidewalk open” she said.

In December Carriere wrote to Mayor Andrea Roberts and also a letter to the editor of this paper about his concern.

“I’d like to see more response on the town’s side to not leave it more than maybe a week at the most goodness gracious. It doesn’t take a heck of a lot. They could bring a crew in to clean that out before they send them anywhere else.”

Roberts told the Echo she did contact the roads department in December after receiving Carriere’s concern.

“As I recall they had intended to do snow removal the next day but snowy weather came and then plowing became the priority” she said noting that snow removal had taken place as Carriere mentioned in anticipation of the weekend weather earlier this month.

“This is an issue every year but I have not personally had other complaints” said Roberts. “The sidewalks are cleared and sanded all the time but the removal only takes place every so often as it takes different equipment. I realize the concern is the cone of snow from the road to the curb making it difficult for passengers to get out or someone who uses the right side of their vehicle for mobility access.”

“I don’t find it any worse this year than other years” said Roberts. “One thing I’m thinking the municipality could do is ensure the handicapped spaces are cleared as a priority.”

Roberts said she would discuss with the roads department to see how that goal could be achieved.