Nfld. & Labrador

Senior's fall on sidewalk rallying point for St. John's woman looking for snowclearing

A St. John's woman has written city councillors, calling for better sidewalk snowclearing and salting, after a senior woman fell into a snowbank at a downtown bus stop.
A woman who says she helped an older woman who fell into a snowbank at this bus stop at Harvey Road and Long's Hill last month says more needs to be done to clear snow on sidewalks in St. John's. (CBC)

A St. John's woman has written city councillors, calling for better sidewalk snowclearing and salting, after a senior woman fell into a snowbank at a downtown bus stop.

Cara Lewis says this is her first winter in many years as a full-time pedestrian and safety has been on her mind.

Demanding better snow clearing after witnessing a frightening fall.

Even more so, Lewis said, since she saw a woman had fallen into a snowbank, while a man in a wheelchair struggled to get off a Metrobus at the Long's Hill and Harvey Road stop.

You could tell he was embarrassed and apologetic and just struggling with his one leg and his wheelchair. It was absolutely outrageous.- Cara Lewis

She thought the man was struggling to get on the bus's accessibility ramp, but then realized the man was actually trying to help his partner, who Lewis said was "lodged" in slush.

"She was struggling and not able to get up from the snowbank which she fell into," Lewis told CBC's St. John's Morning Show of the Jan. 21 incident.

Lewis and the bus driver helped the woman get up and then also helped clear snow and slush out of the way for the the man in the wheelchair to get off the bus.

"I just started digging — I had to dig around the ramp so that he could shimmy himself off," said Lewis, who added she didn't get the names of the two people she helped, but asked for permission to share the story.

"You could tell he was embarrassed and apologetic and just struggling with his one leg and his wheelchair. It was absolutely outragoues."

'It just needs to be addressed'

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

The incident inspired Lewis to write a letter to the city councillors, as well as share the content of that letter on Facebook.

In the letter, Lewis makes the case to councillors to establish an immediate response to maintain sidewalks on main arteries, including where she lives on Merrymeeting Road, as well as a strategic plan to tackle the issue.

"It's good to explain your situation, your motivation, and then to just make some clear and also reasonably reachable goals to address the problems that you are expressing," said Lewis.

"I would go for at least one sidewalk a street, I think that's reasonable."

Since posting it on social media, Lewis said she's received support from other people looking for better sidewalk clearing.

In addition, Lewis said she's heard back from most of the councillors by Monday morning, at least acknowledging her complaint.

"I'm not sure if the squeaky wheel kind of got the results and we did eventually get a sidewalk [cleared] on our road," she said.

"But it's days that you see families and people with disabilities struggling from supermarkets … and just in the middle of the street, it just needs to be addressed."

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