'Pretty frustrating': Winnipeg needs to plow better, woman in wheelchair says after being stuck at bus stop

A Winnipeg woman says a trip home from the movies became an ordeal this week, after built-up snow around bus stops left her stuck for several minutes and forced her to go blocks out of her way before she found one she could use.

City says bus stops at Grant Avenue and Wilton Street have been plowed again following inspection

Kate Grisim said she feels she'll have to rely more on Handi-Transit after blocked snow from plowing prevented her from getting to bus stop after bus stop on Wednesday evening. (Submitted by Kate Grisim)

A Winnipeg woman who uses a wheelchair wants the city to change the way it plows sidewalks, after her bus trip home from the movies became an ordeal this week.

Kate Grisim said snow around bus stops near Grant Park Shopping Centre left her stuck in snow for several minutes and then forced her to go blocks out of her way just to get home Wednesday evening.

"That was pretty frustrating, I admit," said Kate Grisim.

"I mean, I had just gone to a social outing like seeing a movie, and this is what I have to deal with, unfortunately."

Grisim left the mall around 6:30 p.m. after seeing a movie with a friend, she said. She tried to catch an eastbound bus at Grant Avenue and Wilton Street but snow blocked her access to the stop.

As she tried to get through, her wheelchair got stuck. She said she was forced to wait in the snow for close to 10 minutes before a man passing by helped her out.

After that, she had to go a further three blocks out of her way to Stafford Street — passing five blocked bus stops along the way — before she found a stop she could access.

Kate Grisim said she had to pass five bus stops just to find one she could access in her wheelchair near Grant Park Shopping Centre on Wednesday evening. (Submitted by Kate Grisim)

She said it's not simply a question of whether the city had plowed the area, because some of the bus stops had been cleared. But without clear paths created to get to the stops, she and others can't use them.

She's chosen public transit over Handi-Transit services in the past, because Handi-Transit requires riders to book days in advance. But she said the experience has left her in doubt if she'll be able to keep using the bus in winter.

"In Winnipeg in winter, I mean, it's hard for anybody to kind of get motivated and keep going to outings," she said.

"But this is a clear indication to me that I will need to rely on Handi-Transit more. And that's just kind of disappointing, because it does take my independence and my spontaneity."

'Disabled people deserve to have the right to go out in public'

A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said in an email the city inspected the eastbound bus stop at Grant Avenue and Wilton Street where Grisim got stuck and determined more plowing was needed to improve access. The stop is unique because it has a service road on one side of it and a sidewalk across the service road, he said.

The city sent a front-end loader to deal with that stop and one across the street after learning about the block.

"Snow clearing is an ongoing process, so since the last plow, some additional snow had accumulated," he wrote.

"And now with milder temperatures the snow on sidewalks has softened and we are addressing trouble spots, asking sidewalk users to use caution at this time, and to report locations that need clearing to 311."

Grisim said the issue of plowing comes up year after year, and affects people with wheelchairs, canes, walkers or strollers.

"I would like the city not only to plow, but to think of better ways of eliminating snow banks, for example," she said. "And not just plowing a sidewalk in the middle and leaving kind of two snowbanks on the sides of the … sidewalk that are easy to get stuck in."

She wants to see the city deal with it now, rather than waiting until more snow falls later this winter.

"I hope people don't see this as feeling sorry for disabled people," she said.

"It's more of a bigger issue that disabled people deserve to have the right to go out in public and have access to public areas that everyone else has."

With files from Danelle Cloutier


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