Art was out clearing snow off the sidewalk in front of Kingdom Hall in Aldergrove earlier this month. “I’m a volunteer ” he explained. “After this I’m going home to clear my drive.” (Langley Advance Times files)

Art was out clearing snow off the sidewalk in front of Kingdom Hall in Aldergrove earlier this month. “I’m a volunteer ” he explained. “After this I’m going home to clear my drive.” (Langley Advance Times files)

IN OUR VIEW: Please buy a snow shovel, and use it

Mobility is about more than having plowed roads

We like to joke about how inept coastal British Columbians are when it comes to dealing with a few inches of snow, but for some folks our ineptitude isn’t that funny.

We’re not even talking about whatever happened with the Lower Mainland’s major bridges last week, leaving people stuck in perpetual commute mode.

No, it’s a much smaller and more local issue that we need to deal with. We need to get a lot better at removing snow and ice from sidewalks and crosswalks.

If you’ve travelled more than a block or two on foot in the last few days, you know the terrain on our sidewalks is highly variable.

Some have been scraped clean and thoroughly de-iced.

Others have a sad, narrow corridor that is more-or-less snow-free, one shovel’s-width wide.

And then there are those areas outside shops and homes where the owner or landlord simply hasn’t bothered at all, and the snow has compacted into slippery, treacherous ice.

This can be scary to navigate. Think about those who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and mobility scooters. Parents with little ones in strollers have to struggle with the mess, and the able bodied can still go for a nasty spill.

In both the Township and the City, there are bylaws that require the removal of snow and ice within a certain timeframe. For some homeowners, age or disability has made this impossible, and fortunately, there are often kind neighbours, or efforts like the Snow Angels volunteers.

It would be nice to see the bylaws enforced. We don’t necessarily need a massive ticketing blitz right away. But reminding property owners, particularly in urban areas, that they have a responsibility to make the public sidewalks passable for everyone, would go a long way to making the next big snowfall easier on all of use, especially the vulnerable.

– M.C.

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