Charlottetown man urges city to step-up snow-clearing for those with disabilities
'The banks are high, you can't find a place to where you can park'
A Charlottetown man who uses a prosthetic leg wants the city to step up its efforts snow-clearing efforts after storms.
Eric Payne, who had his leg amputated in 2005, said snow banks piled up in parking spots designated for people with disabilities and on curb ramps make it difficult to get around.
"During the day of the storm, the banks are high, you can't find a place to where you can park and you can't make it through to an area where you can get through to the sidewalk, you have to move on," he said.
More so than some people think, in the midnight hours of what goes on in the City of Charlottetown everybody's trying to move snow.— Paul Johnston, manager of public works for the City of Charlottetown
"There's no option, it's fact — you won't be able to access anything so you might as well go back to your residence."
Payne said many people choose to simply stay home after a storm.
Payne understands it takes a while to get the city cleaned up — but he's noticed the problem often persists for several days, making it hard for those who use the designated spots to get around the city.
"I've seen numerous, especially seniors — they use the [lamp] posts sometimes for bracing to be able to get over and sometimes it's very shaky and they put themselves at risk to be injured."
A source of isolation
Payne takes it upon himself to report spots that haven't been properly cleared to the city.
He said the city has made some improvements over the past few years, but it's an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.
For a person living with a disability, he said, it's just one more barrier.
"It puts that little extra layer of separation and isolation for people with disabilities and if they can't get out in their community they can't access various services and/or businesses," Payne said.
"A term that I've been taught for years is citizenship. They want to be part of the community and when you don't have that ability to be, it kind of sets you off to the side."
A whole lot of juggling
Paul Johnston, manager of public works for the City of Charlottetown, said the designated disabled parking spots are one of the city's top priority on snow-clearing days.
He said snow clearing is always a juggling act and crews are instructed not to impact disabled spots to the best of their ability, but every storm brings unique challenges.
"Sometimes there's local conditions that we've been able to get to some and not to all, and we do have different resources. We don't ignore everything else in the city until we've got all of those spaces bared off," Johnston said.
"We've got two crews trying to monitor the effectiveness of the work they've done to see if we need to take somebody off the regular crew and get them over on to the disability crew 'cause we're falling behind … Trying to juggle a whole lot of balls with all of the issues in winter in Charlottetown."
'Everybody's trying to move snow'
Johnston said private contractors and residents have on occasion dumped their own snow on the designated spots after they've been cleared.
"More so than some people think, in the midnight hours of what goes on in the City of Charlottetown everybody's trying to move snow. The uptown area is no different," he said.
"I'm sure people in the residential areas see somebody that likes to plow their driveway across the road to the other side or shovel snow on the street or whatever, so there are folks out there moving snow and somebody, unfortunately, doesn't have as much care or concern or recognition of a disability space and it gets impacted."
Payne said a possible solution could include the downtown businesses and city working together more.
"The downtown Charlottetown businesses want people with disabilities. It could be part of the dialogue with the city about, you know, we need to be able to target this to be able to get all our community out to the businesses of the downtown area."
Johnston said the city understands the impact that a lack of snow-clearing can have on people with disabilities, but admits the city isn't perfect and some areas can get missed.
He advises residents who notice a spot that hasn't been properly cleared to contact city hall so the issue can be addressed.