This is an issue about which I am passionate and which I have not yet heard anyone else mention so far in this campaign.
There is a lot going on about the need for better pedestrian and bicycle use in the city, and I agree, as I have no car and use my bicycle as much as I can but walk a lot, especially in the winter.
But Stratford’s sidewalks are terrible in winter. For months on end they are icy, often with that bumpy ice that forms when people’s footprints in slush freezes solid. And snow clearing on some residential streets happens many days after a heavy snowfall.
One of the worst things is that the private snow removal people plow out the driveways but leave huge ridges of snow across the public sidewalks because the operators are too lazy to hop out of their machine and take a snow shovel to clear the ridge away. Those ridges freeze solid and become impassable barriers. People are supposed to walk on the street, but, with the snow being allowed to build up several feet out from the curb, the streets are much narrower than they are at other seasons, so walking along the edge of the street puts you in the way of the vehicles.
I have a neighbour who had a heart attack and was told by his doctor to go out twice a day for a half-hour walk. He walks with a walker. Can you imagine what it’s like to get a walker with little wheels through several inches of snow or slush on the sidewalk or over the bumpy ice? Of course he can’t get out for the winter months -- and he really does try -- his health is suffering. What about the many people who use a cane? How many people fall and break a hip or arm or shoulder each winter?
Next year Canada Post will expect us to use community mailboxes. All of us are going to have to walk down the block every day to get our mail. How many more people are going to have a serious fall? And my former experience with a community mailbox was that Canada Post did no snow clearance at the sites (and never cleaned up the litter, nor supplied a trash can!).
Of course I realize that sidewalk maintenance costs money. I can only think to one small way the city can save a bit on its costs. The street lights are set to turn off long after it’s completely daylight and go on too early, even by day on dark winter days when there’s no need for it yet. If the lights were adjusted just a bit, I imagine that the city might save enough to put more workers on sidewalk maintenance.
I am a pretty fit senior and want to continue living independently for a long time, and I know many others like me. Could you try to make people more aware of this issue during what is left of this campaign?
Good luck on the 27th.
Gerard Brender à Brandis