Winter’s Inaccessible Sidewalks

photo 1

“Snow-weary Ontarians woke up to another winter blast Tuesday, which likely pushed Toronto’s total snowfall level beyond what the region saw all last winter.” Toronto Star, February 18, 2014

Shoveling snow—again! Its no longer about shoveling every day, but now several times a day as the  white powder continues to blanket the greater part of Southern and all of Northern Ontario. The city of Toronto, and probably most municipalities, require residents to clean off their sidewalks, and for personal safety, everyone should have clean steps and walkways. If you have a driveway, it can become a very onerous task, but not shoveling may mean the car remains blanketed and boxed in for a few days.

Why do I care to comment on snow and shoveling? Its not about lamenting the long winter, but about my concern for those who can’t physically shovel their own property, about people who mistakenly do and injure themselves, and about people like me who buy a house with steps and driveways they figure they can manage, before considering that it’s a challenge as one ages and one’s body begins to respond poorly to such challenges. I deserve a rousing criticism for purchasing a home with 13 steps to the front door, a retainer wall too high to throw snow over, and a driveway with no side yard into which to toss the fluffy white stuff.  So, my workouts this winter have been frequent and my arms are getting stronger while my back screams stop!!

Here are some solutions I am gathering, some from friends, from radio and from experience:

  1. Ask your young adult son to shovel.  My response: Ever experience overpriced help?
  2. Hire a neighbor’s kid. My response:  What if the closest neighbors have kids under 10?
  3. Lay down a foundation of salt. My response: Have you seen what salt does to the garden and the wooden steps?
  4. Install sidewalk heaters. My response: Before or after you spend money to rebuild the steps and walks?
  5. Hire a snow removal contractor. My response:  What if you need a shovel not a front end loader?
  6. Ask your healthy neighbor or her husband. My response: Do I plead decrepitude this year or next?
  7. Sell the house and move. My response: Am I really ready for the condo market, or can I hold out yet for a few years?

photo 2I think it’s imperative that everyone who can clean their shared sidewalks, do their utmost to keep them snow and ice free, for the safety of all—small kids, frail elderly,  or people with  disabilities, as well as those pushing or pulling carts, strollers, suitcases etc. But it might be a great service to check with your neighbors who are struggling to clean off their own property, and could use a hand..or should I say, a strong back, to move the season’s umpteenth snowfall to create passage from their home.  I can’t thank my neighbors enough for having cleared my walk recently and here is the photo of what I faced when returning home from a business trip. Beautiful but daunting.

photo 3

About modcpresident
I grew up in Calgary, where I completed a BA at the University of Calgary, then travelled and taught in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic during the heyday of Trudeaumania, hippie travel and social experimentation. I settled in Vancouver to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of British Columbia, and stayed another 8 years. After graduating I was a Social Planner and eventually became the Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. Ontario March of Dimes recruited me in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons and the 30th anniversary of the agency. It has grown from a budget of $5m in '81 to $100m in 2010. Services have expanded drafmatically. We incorporated a non profit housing corporation in 1992 and a national charity in 2001, and since 2006 the latter has operated as March of Dimes Canada. We own and operate several properties that provide accommodation and independent living services to 77 people in 4 municipalities and will add another property this year. Two other exciting non profit entities have been incorporated in my 30 years (yes, it has been 30 years!) and we expect to hold our first fundraiser in the US this year and to initiate our first service south of the border also. My role as President and CEO continues to be that of creating a vision, fulfilling the mission and developing strategic plans to meet an increasing demand for services from people with disabilities and their caregivers. This is achieved through direct service, advocacy and peer programs. On a personal note, I live with my 17 year old daughter and two cats, and enjoy their company a lot. My two adult sons are doing interesting exploration in their own lives and I am intrigued with how they are progressing. In my spare time, I have various volunteer roles on several non profit boards and committees, and enjoy creating programs for building awareness of diversity and disability. I think it has become true for me that youth is, while not "wasted on the young," something that I appreciate more with age. Adventures are physically more challenging for me now, so they have to occur in new dimensions.

3 Responses to Winter’s Inaccessible Sidewalks

  1. ruthkapelus says:

    I wish I could share this with my neighbours. I live in a neighbourhood that is a mix of the very young, and seniors, and the icy, dangerous sidewalks left by many of my neighbours are so hard to navigate with a stroller, assistive device or limited mobility. Maybe I should be inspired to get a shovel and help them out!

  2. Elizabeth Lounsbury says:

    Andria you forgot to mention how scary it is to look out and see that if the firetrucks or an ambulance needed to access the house if the drive isn’t cleared it could mean the difference between life and death. Here in the North we look after each other. When my neighbour can’t clear out my son does it for him and he reciprocates. He is our only neighbour so we have to look out for each other.

  3. L. D. Sword says:

    Hi from Calgary where it’s balmy and nothing has fallen on the sidewalks for a month. The City has a Snow Angels program, making it official policy for neighbours to help shovel for others. You can nominate your neighbour for a Snow Angel award:
    http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/CNS/Pages/Seniors/Snow-Angels/Snow-Angels.aspx?redirect=/snowangels. If Toronto has such a program, that’s another option for sharing and building community.

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