June 13, 2024


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Is minimum winter maintenance enough?

Last week after days of snow and brutal wind the sun finally came out and I decided to venture out for a walk to get the mail. It hadn’t snowed in a few days but the iced-over footprints from previous walkers on the sidewalks made it very difficult.

There was some relief on Grand Bend’s Main Street when I passed storefronts whose owners had shovelled but with many businesses shuttered for the winter or closed because of the lock down there weren’t that many cleared areas.

As I turned off of Main Street I realized that none of the main sidewalks had been plowed, shovelled or salted. In trying to navigate my way to the post office on the uneven and slippery surface I wondered what would have happened if I had been an elderly person with balance issues? What if I walked with the help of a walker or cane? What if I were in a wheelchair? How hard would it be for those residents if I was having trouble?

Why didn’t the county plow or salt the main sidewalks? I understand that the first priority after a snowfall is to clear the roads to make them safe for drivers but once that is complete what about pedestrians?

I’ve recently found out that there is no set council policy for winter maintenance of roads or sidewalks. I’m told that the county meets the “minimum” of the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) requirements of the Municipal Act. Is that enough?

Plowing is not required for snowfall under 8 cm but when you’re trying to walk in the frozen footprints left by previous pedestrians 8 cm feels like a lot.

The Director of Community Services admitted they could have gotten out sooner and by the time they did, the snow, having been compacted by pedestrian traffic, had turned to ice making it difficult to clear.

It’s bad enough to be forced inside during a winter of lock downs, cold temperatures and lots of snow but on those rare days when the wind is still¬†and the sun is shining shouldn’t we be able to take advantage of it by getting out for a walk without having to worry about falling down?

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