Accessibility advocates call on municipality to clean up icy sidewalks
Published Saturday, January 5, 2019 6:32PM AST
HALIFAX -- The icy mess left behind by a New Year’s Day storm has made travelling Halifax’s sidewalks for those with disabilities, nearly impossible.
For people like Shelly Adams, who is visually impaired the layer of ice adds a layer of stress to her daily commute.
“It’s really stressful when the sidewalks are like this and day-to-day you don’t know what to expect when you walk out your door,” said Adams, “I’m always nervous because I don’t know will I be able to walk on the sidewalk or will I have to cross on the road?”
Adams travels with her guide dog, who she says, isn’t sure how to navigate the snow covered sidewalks on her behalf.
“I’ve crossed the streets where my dog is like, ‘I don’t know where to take you because the corner is blocked',” she said.
“It’s scary because there are times when I’ve ended up kind of in a main intersection, standing on the road, trying to figure out how I’m going to get to the sidewalk, and cars are coming and going.”
Accessibility advocate Brian George says he faces similar problems. He uses the access-a-bus to go to work, but besides that, he says he doesn’t go anywhere else.
“The biggest problem that I’ve noticed is the bus stops. Some of them are not clear, and they might attempt to clear them -- but they only clear a foot wide path for the door to open,” said George, “when you’re in a wheelchair that is almost 30 inches wide – that doesn’t really help.”
Councillor Lisa Blackburn who is a member of Halifax’s accessibility advisory committee says she’s heard these concerns and plans on bringing up the issue of sidewalk clearing and accessibility at the next council meeting.
“My two years serving on the committee, I’ve heard from members of the accessibility community who have told me when things like this happen, they can’t go to work, they can’t socialize. It is extremely isolating and in many cases can cost them money if they can’t get to work,” Blackburn said.
But for residents like Adams and George, they say changes can’t come soon enough.
“This morning I hear more plows and said, I’m going to check it out today, and not today’s the last straw. I have to get in touch with 311 and complain,” said Adams, “It’s been four days- that is too long.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Allan April.