Thursday, December 07, 2006

Saskatoon snow bylaw a disgrace – StarPhoenix – December 7, 2006

Mobility impaired citizens left in rut by snow bylaw

The StarPhoenix

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Saskatoon's capital and operating budgets have risen by a combined $151 million since 2003.

This does not include the city's recent recordbreaking preliminary capital budget for 2007.

How much of this increased spending has gone to provide better snow removal? The answer is, zero. Each year, the city adds just enough money to maintain the previous level of service.

Saskatoon's snow removal program is a disgrace. We have one sidewalk clearing bylaw inspector to cover the entire city. The bylaw is enforced only on a complaint basis and not one business has ever been charged. Go figure.

The city invested a lot of time and money to overhaul the transit system. It added fancy new low-floor buses, yet the bus stops they serve are rarely, if ever, cleared of snow. If they do get cleared, which is rare, the sidewalks leading to them usually aren't, which defeats the purpose.

Curb ramps, if and when cleared, are routinely rendered useless because the sidewalks between them aren't.

For persons with mobility difficulties, it's nothing short of a nightmare. People who use wheelchairs and scooters often must travel on the road because the sidewalks are inaccessible. I know, because I'm one of them. This is dangerous but it's permitted to happen every year.

The city spent two years reviewing its snow bylaw, which was last modified in 1942. In 2005, it was expanded to include suburban centres. All this did was add to the list of sidewalks that get ignored and led to a bylaw which the city won't, or can't, enforce.

We continue to build new roads and neighbourhoods but the snow removal remains relatively the same. In fact, it probably hasn't changed much in a generation. When is city council and administration going to seriously address this issue rather than continue to make excuses?

Georgie Davis

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


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