Snow-clogged sidewalks leaving some Ottawa residents housebound

While snow-clogged sidewalks are a headache for many, for those who rely on wheelchairs to get around, an unplowed pathway can leave them prisoners in their own homes.

Sarah Trick has been unable to leave her Gloucester apartment for days, and there's more snow on the way

Sarah Trick has been snowed in at her east Ottawa apartment since Sunday because she can't navigate the snowy sidewalks in her wheelchair. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

While heavy snowfall this week has people across Ottawa trudging through messy sidewalks and traversing thigh-high snowbanks, the winter weather has left many streets impassable for people who use wheelchairs to get around.

Sarah Trick has been virtually snowed in at her Gloucester apartment since Sunday, and with another big dump of snow coming mid-week, she's concerned she won't be able to get out to buy food.

"I'm a little bit worried considering there's another storm tonight that I might run out [of food] within the next couple of days, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do," she told Hallie Cotnam on CBC's Ottawa Morning.

The last time Trick was able to leave home was Saturday, and only after a friend flagged down a passing bus for her because she was unable to make it a block and a half through the snow with her wheelchair to the bus stop.

With more snow expected this week, Sarah Trick is worried she won't be able to get out to buy groceries. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)
When her friends aren't around, she has to rely on the kindness of strangers to get her wheelchair unstuck from the thick, slushy snow.

"It can handle snow if it's like hard-packed snow, but if it's soft like what we've been getting lately, or the ice is too slippery, that's when it'll get stuck. So if everything freezes over, then it's usually okay, or if it's packed down," she said. 

"But once you get soft drifts like what we've been getting lately, it won't go through it at all."

'I just find it confusing'

Trick wants the city to make ploughing sidewalks more of a priority for people who rely on wheelchairs to get around. She said the area around her building on Ogilvie is often neglected.

"I guess I just find it confusing as to why you wouldn't plough an entire area of sidewalk," Trick said. "Or sometimes I think they try to plough the sidewalks, but then they end up ploughing the roads afterward, and the snow gets right back onto the sidewalk."

Para Transpo is a potential option, but in snowy winter weather spots on the specialized buses are in high demand, and when she calls, most are already booked up. She doesn't like taking her wheelchair onto busy Ogilvie Road because of traffic.

With more snow on the way, Trick hopes to see more city crews out clearing sidewalks.

"I definitely think they could be ploughing a little bit more often and being more careful about where they plough the snow to."