Saskatoon lady calls on metropolis to make sidewalks and curbs extra accessible in winter

A Saskatoon woman who uses a power chair is calling on the city to do better when it comes to clearing sidewalks and curb cuts.

Lynnett Boris has been living in the city’s downtown core for more than 10 years. She says getting around in the winter isn’t easy and often finds herself getting stuck in the snow.

“I have yet to see the city clean the curb cuts and the sidewalks properly,” Boris told CTV News.

Boris says in order not to get stuck, the snow must be cleared down to the pavement. Even with just a little bit of snow, she could find herself in trouble.

“That’s not fair for myself or any other person with a disability. We have as many rights to be out there in the snow or out in winter as anybody else that doesn’t have a disability,” Boris said.

While able-bodied people can find different ways around the snow, those who use accessible equipment can often get stuck and then need help from others to get out.

Situations like that are something Colin Farnan, an accessible consultant, says takes away their independence.

“If you don’t have that independence, you know it’s a dig. It’s not a great feeling when you can’t actually access things everyone else can access,” Farnan said.

Most of the city has been paved with graders or shoveled by neighbors since the winter storms in December, but while it may look accessible, Farnan says people need to take a closer look as accessibility is something more people need to be aware of.

“It’s a lived experience, right? If you have never experienced a mobility issue in your life, you’re not going to see those obstacles in your way,” Farnan said.

The city’s website says when it snows five centimeters or more, it’s responsible to clear sidewalks next to city-owned facilities, pedestrian overpasses, bridge walkways, and high-pedestrian downtown sidewalks with built-in trees and landscaping.

Residential properties in the city have 48 hours to clear the snow from their sidewalks while commercial properties need to be cleared within 24 hours.

“Once we receive a complaint, the address is assigned to a Bylaw Inspector who visits the site and decides on the necessary course of action,” Leanne DeLong, bylaw compliance manager with the city, told CTV News by email.

DeLong says the sidewalk clearing bylaw is enforced on a complaint basis, so if sidewalks aren’t being properly cleared of snow, residents can submit a complaint through their bylaw hotline at 306-657-8766 or at [email protected]

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