Despite beefing up Sarnia sidewalk clearance this winter pedestrians are still having difficulty getting around.
More than three feet of snow (92 centimetres) has landed on the city, taxing the crews that plow the streets and walkways. The winter has especially impacted residents with physical challenges.
“We’ve often had to walk on the streets or climbed through the snowdrifts and snowhills,” said Mike Bush, who was helping his mother reach an East Street bus stop.
Theodosia Bush, 79, uses public transit to attend church and visit senior centres. But many bus stops are snow-blocked and dangerous and some businesses don’t clear their walkways, forcing pedestrians into the street, said her son, who complained to city hall.
Sarnia added a third sidewalk plow to its arsenal this winter, as well as two tow-along salting units and three temporary Public Works employees.
Historically, sidewalks have taken a backseat to roads in snowstorms. Though sidewalk units are still deployed as resources permit they no longer sit idle until all roads are clear.
Plows do 138 kilometres of sidewalks adjacent main roads and schools. Another 182 kilometres in residential areas don’t get plowed.
“We’d love to be able to do more of the sidewalks. Unfortunately, that would require more staff and more machines,” said city engineer Andre Morin.
Sarnia does not require residents or businesses outside commercially zoned areas to clear walkways.
“Ideally, we’d like businesses to buy in and help us,” Morin said.