Scarborough resident Roy Ward wants to know what responsibility the City of Toronto has for clearing its own property.
“If I have to clean the sidewalk in front of my house, then why shouldn’t the city have to clean the sidewalks surrounding parks and community centres that they own?” says Ward.
Ward is a 63-year-old retiree who worked for GM for over 40 years and has lived in Scarborough for over 30 years. In his retirement he has taken up walking everyday with his dog, sometimes up to 40 kilometres. Throughout his neighbourhood of Port Union and Lawrence Avenue East, Ward encounters many pedestrian obstacles due to improper snow clearing by the city around city owned properties.
Toronto requires all private residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks within 12 hours after a snow fall.
Ward frequently walks by parks, such as Port Union Village Common, and the Port Union Community Recreation Centre and he often finds himself having to traverse paths that are covered in ice or hard packed snow and some paths that have not been cleaned at all.
“Parks and Rec does a good job of clearing the paths within parks, and the [Toronto school board] also does a good job around the schools, but it seems like for the city the sidewalks around parks and community centres do not matter,” said Ward.
Zephine Wailoo, recreational programmer at the Port Union Community Centre, says turnout for seniors is a bit down, although the centre is still running all programs. He says the low numbers are more about seniors being cautious when venturing out then the actual street conditions.
“I think the city does a good job,” says Wailoo. “They are here first thing in the morning and clear both the paths leading to the centre and the parking lot.”
Ward agrees with Wailoo that the paths leading to the centre are perfectly clear, but it is the sidewalks adjacent to the street that are not.
The city’s parks department is responsible for snow removal and salting on the properties of their facilities including parking lots, but it is the city’s transportation department whose jurisdiction the sidewalks adjacent the streets fall into.
Ward says he has been trying to voice his concerns to Mayor Miller and local Scarborough East city councillor Ron Moeser since January 2008, and has written emails and made phone calls.
“I do not disagree with Mr. Ward — we have to do better,” said Moeser in response to the problem raised by Ward. “It has been a tough year for all of us concerning the snow.”
Moeser said he spent much of Christmas Eve responding to issues of snow banks in the community after a major snowfall on Dec. 23.
Moeser says his office gets up to 120 calls a day concerning snow clearing, adding that these snow issues are taken care of within one to two hours from when the call is received. This is in contrast to the city’s recommendation that residents allow a minimum of 24 hours for a snow issue to be resolved.
“The problem we have is the snow freezes so fast that it becomes difficult to clear,” said Moeser. “We try to get this done as soon as possible; especially when it comes to the safety of seniors … something we take very seriously.”