Nfld. & Labrador

'We are working on it,' Danny Breen says of sidewalk snowclearing

A city councillor says a St. John's woman did the right thing by emailing staff to notify them of a snowclearing issue.
Coun. Danny Breen says clearing sidewalks in St. John's presents unique challenges, specifically the typical thaw and freeze due to shifting temperatures. (Katie Breen/CBC)

A city councillor says sidewalk snowclearing is never going to be perfect, but is a work in progress, after a woman wrote St. John's council to complain about a lack of clearing and salting at bus stops.

Coun. Danny Breen says he received a letter from St. John's resident Cara Lewis, who witnessed a senior citizen struggle to get out of a snowbank she had fallen into trying to get off of a Metrobus.

Lewis said she then had to dig around snow built up around the bus stop to allow a man in a wheelchair to get onto the sidewalk.

When there is an issue that arises, write us. Let us know. Send us an email, phone 311, tell us.- Coun. Danny Breen

"In this specific situation it was a case where the plow, the street plow, had been plowing the layby, never quite got to the curb — the layby is the area where the bus pulls in to the bus stop," Breen told CBC's St. John's Morning Show Tuesday.

"When the sidewalk plow came up … of course it couldn't go over the curb to get that snow and it was just there."

Breen said it's unfortunate this situation happened at all, but the city has been working to improve clearing of snow on sidewalks.

In 2010 the city invested an additional $400,000 in capital and $200,000 to improving sidewalk snowclearing, Breen said, and in 2015 invested even more — about $2 million.

The city currently clears around 140 kilometres of sidewalk space, but the big challenge is the thaw and freeze experienced frequently in St. John's, Breen said.

On Merrymeeting Road, one obstacle to sidewalk snowclearing include poles in the middle of the sidewalks. (Cecil Haire/CBC)

"We are working on it. It's a very tricky thing to be doing because we have some physical characteristics, especially where the road and sidewalk are together there's no space in between for snow storage, so we're kind of clearing and then plowing back in," said Breen.

"But Cara [Lewis] did the right thing. When there is an issue that arises, write us. Let us know. Send us an email, phone 311, tell us where the issue is so we can deal with it."

Breen added the clearing of the bus stops is a Metrobus responsibility, but sai snowclearing on those routes and areas are high up on the priority list.


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