This image, captured by Spacing’s web developer Michael Pereira after one of our recent snowstorms, pretty much says all there is to say about the problems of snow clearing for pedestrians in Toronto. Some enterprising person has put a skid down so that pedestrians can cross the pool of briny slush at the intersection. But it doesn’t help the woman in the wheelchair, who is stymied by this pool.
Apparently, on Friday the Works Committee did discuss the Pedestrian Committee’s motion regarding snow clearance for pedestrians, and at the very least called for improved enforcement of the city’s snow-clearing bylaws. But while the city has made small improvements in the most recent snowstorms, there is still a lot to be done. I do not think there is any reason why sidewalks on main roads cannot be cleared as quickly as the roads themselves.
I also want to address a couple of excuses the city uses. An article in the Star about last week’s snowstorm said:
[Transportation Services director] Noehammer urges residents to clear sewers and storm covers in front of their homes so melted snow and rain can drain away.
This is problematic. Those sewers are on the road, they aren’t even on the sidewalk. The city is now asking residents to not only clear their sidewalks, but also the road? Clearing sewer grates is the city’s responsibility, it’s time it took responsibility for this basic and necessary task rather than pushing it off on residents.
And, a Sun article states:
However, thin sidewalks and on-street parking make it impossible for municipal officials to provide the service in central Toronto.
I don’t believe this is true. It may make it more difficult, but there are lots of sidewalks in central Toronto, including residential ones, that could be ploughed effectively, certainly many more than are currently ploughed. According to staff, the city can plough a sidewalk only 1.5 meters wide, which takes care of most in Toronto. And on many residential streets, the parking is only on one side. The real reason is that the old pre-amalgamation City of Toronto didn’t plough sidewalks, and the city can’t afford the extra equipment or manpower it would take to extend the ploughing throughout the central area. Which is fair enough, but don’t pretend it can’t be done — admit it just won’t be done.