Asks for better clearing of sidewalks after the spring snowstorm


Some Winnipeg sidewalks remain nearly impassable a week after a huge spring storm brought a pile of snow to southern Manitoba.

While wet sidewalks can be expected in the spring, some say conditions this year – one of the snowiest on record – have been a barrier for pedestrians and people with reduced mobility.

For David Gebhardt, who uses a mobility scooter after double hip replacement surgery, getting around the dry city center streets is no problem. Getting around downtown from his home in the north of the city is where the difficulty lies.

“In some places it’s fine and in other places you don’t even want to try driving on the pavement,” Gebhardt said.

Indeed, in some areas of the city, the sidewalks remain covered with melting snow or flooded by melting snow accumulated from the street, making them almost impassable in places.

“So no one with a scooter comes out,” Gebhardt said. “I am the only daring one.”

It’s downright treacherous in some cases.

Randy Penner, who was strolling Wellington Crescent and Cockburn Street North on Thursday, slipped while navigating a muddy section of sidewalk.

“Obviously this one here isn’t getting the love and attention it could,” Penner said. “And I’m surprised by this one because it’s more of a priority sidewalk, right?”

It’s listed as a priority sidewalk that should be cleared within 36 hours of an average storm, but many people waded or hiked portions of slush, depending on their shoes.

“I can’t get over this,” said Shirley Lee, pointing to the flooded sidewalk. “It just seems like too much.”

Leaving some to wonder if more could have been done to clear driveways more quickly after last week’s massive spring snowstorm, by clearing snow sooner in high traffic or problem areas.

“A lot of times you see people choosing to walk on the road instead of the sidewalk because it’s not clear or the puddles are quite deep,” said Nolan Smith. “Especially if there are cracked areas on the sidewalk where it might be difficult for people in wheelchairs, or things like that – those would be the things to explore.”

The city said in a statement that full sidewalk snow removal was carried out in the days following the storm in accordance with its snow removal policy, adding crews clearing sidewalks on a flat, hard-packed surface, not necessarily until concrete, which can create moisture and slush. conditions when it melts.

While some snow-covered sidewalks are now clear or have melted, residents said many others still need work to make it easier for people to get around.

“The sidewalks that I noticed in some residential areas, you couldn’t really get off on any of the sidewalks because there was just too much snow,” Gebhardt said.

Councilors Cindy Gilroy and Sherri Rollins have previously called for certain busy residential sidewalks to be given higher priority for snow removal.

The city is reviewing its snow and ice policy.

A public works department report to the finance committee on Thursday seeks council approval to spend more than $34 million this year on snow removal, which would leave the city with a budget of about $18.5 million for the rest of 2022.

This is due to the heavy snowfall the city has received this winter. But the report suggests that the snow and ice removal services provided so far have been provided at the levels identified by city policies.

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