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Seniors advocate wants City of Edmonton to help elderly, low-mobility residents clear snow

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The City of Edmonton requires sidewalks to be cleared after it snows, but that can be a difficult task for people with low mobility, such as those with disabilities and some seniors.

"Just having a volunteer come out and do your snow, that's great, but it's not reliable," Sheila Hallett of the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council, told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

It can be even more challenging for those on fixed incomes as paying someone to keep walks shovelled can get pricey quickly.

Right now, the city promotes a 'good neighbour' approach to shovelling, but Hallett says low-income seniors and disabled Edmontonians need more help than that.

"The need is great in both populations," Hallett said. "We believe that it should be included as a core service."

Residents who don't clear their sidewalks in a timely manner after a snowfall face a $100 fine. Hallett believes if someone can’t physically shovel or afford to pay someone to do it, that fine basically amounts to a tax.

Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack says the city doesn't have the money to pay for a shovelling service right now, but he's hopeful finance staff can free up the $1 million or so it would take by this spring.

And sidewalks are just the beginning.

"We have a lot of work to do on snow removal as a whole," Knack told CTV News Edmonton. "I’d like to see even more funding ... I don’t want to see just another million dollars in our snow removal budget, I think we need another $10- to $15-million in our snow removal budget to really be at the level we need to be."

The seniors coordinating council says Edmonton should copy Calgary, which works as a middleman to connect people in need with the existing provincial special-needs assistance program, which offers up to $1,300 a year for home maintenance help.

"That can pay for part of their snow-removal costs," Hallett said. "(If there are) any overages, the City of Calgary covers."

If a sidewalk service is set up in Edmonton, it won't start shovelling for seniors until next winter. 

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