Seniors feel neglected, trapped by city’s lack of snow-clearing efforts

Icy sidewalk conditions present challenges for seniors and people with disabilities.

Slushy and icy sidewalks uncleared
Icy and slushy sidewalks present a challenge for seniors and people with disabilities. (Noor Abduljabbar / Toronto Observer) 

Two weeks after a major snowfall, and sidewalks in East York are still not cleared.

The walkways are now frozen over, or turned to slush, making them inaccessible and dangerous, to seniors and people with disabilities.

East York seniors say they feel trapped in their own homes by large amounts of snow.

The City of Toronto was covered in 55 centimetres of snow on Jan.17. The city said that “snow-related requests were paused during initial snow cleanup operations. This is done so that staff can focus on plowing and salting roads to ensure that emergency vehicles can safely navigate city streets.”

One Leaside resident, Myra Evans, said she complained to her city councillor, but the message she got from the councillor was to call city services at 311, which was backlogged.

“So essentially, we feel abandoned by the city,” Evans said.

Seniors tried contacting the city’s shovelling program for seniors but were told to wait, due to the unanticipated amount of snow.

Some residents who were unable to get help and could not leave the house to do basic tasks, like getting groceries and were left trapped for two days.

Others say they had to resort to hiring private companies, and many had to take matters to their own, said Leaside resident Chris Weir.

Residents feel unheard and unseen

Strenuous activities such as shovelling impose serious health risks to those of the vulnerable population. Senior resident Marg Muir said her husband suffered major body aches for weeks post shovelling.

Christy Kaiser, an East York mother who has a son with disabilities, found it “impossible for the school bus to pull over to lower the wheelchair ramp.” Despite contacting 311 in efforts to get the city’s attention, she was told to simply wait. Kaiser says she feels “unheard and unseen.”

City of Toronto understands residents’ frustrations

The city of Toronto’s Transportation Division said in an email that they “understand how frustrating it can be if your sidewalk is blocked or full of snow. Crews are addressing every part of the roadway so that people can get around as easily and as safely as possible.”

When asked about residents’ complaints regarding the city’s lack of preparation and care, the city said it’s “committed to continuous improvement of service delivery and will review feedback and analytics following this record-breaking storm clean up.” 

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Posted: Jan 28 2022 9:00 am
Filed under: News