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Halifax Accessibility Advisory Committee to meet with HRM staff over snow clearing: September 10, 2015, 4pm-6pm

Transforming Halifax's Winter Maintenance Program to One that is Inclusive and Recognizes the needs of all Citizens: For Public Discussion and Input

On August 4th 2015 a heated debate took place in the Halifax Council Chambers regarding last winter's snow clearance fiasco, but was it enough to melt the snow for this coming winter? The City Manager stated that it would probably take until the 2016-17 winter season before changes could be made. The Mayor and Council disagreed and gave a clear directive to HRM Management to report back by November 15th on what could be done for this coming winter. Particular attention is to be paid to ensure seniors and people with disabilities can move about.

Special Meeting

A Special Meeting of the Accessibility Advisory Committee has been scheduled to meet with HRM Staff to discuss this matter. These meetings are open to the public.

Date: 10 September 2015 between 4pm-6pm
Place: Old City Hall, wheel chair accessible entrance off Argyle Street.

The Situation

The current snow/ice clearance approach is car centric with transit riders and pedestrians, including the elderly, the disabled and families with strollers, being a secondary priority. Many were stranded in their homes for weeks on end because of poor snow/ice clearance. People missed medical appointments, missed work and lost wages. Those without cars were clearly at a disadvantage. HRM Management largely blamed it 'on the weather'!

To create a more balanced and equitable approach the snow clearance standard and maintenance program needs to change!

The Recommendations

Below are recommendations to make Halifax a more Accessible, Safer and Inclusive Community:

  1. The snow clearance standard for sidewalks and bus stops must be the same as the street they serve. For example, the bus stop clearance standard is 48 hours while the standard for the Priority 1 streets they serve is 12 hours. It questions HRM's commitment to public transit and makes citizens who cannot afford cars second class citizens...they are also the citizens who can least afford to lose wages.

  2. Snow clearance at bus stops must be to the curb so that buses can use their ramps to allow seniors, wheel chairs and families with strollers to access transit.

  3. The bus stop shelters must be cleared to same standard.

  4. Halifax Transit must accelerate its program to have plowable concrete pads at all bus stops in suburban and rural areas.

  5. At signaled pedestrian crossings, including those with crosswalk flags, care must be taken to clear snow so that seniors, children and wheel chair users can access the activation buttons and flags. This is especially important with high snow banks. It's difficult for motorists to see children and wheel chairs because of their low profile and the flashing crossing lights and flags become all the more important. Current conditions may expose HRM to legal liability should an accident happen!

  6. Offer sidewalk clearance responsibility in high traffic areas, such as the downtowns, to the downtown business associations and other institutions, such as the universities, and reimburse them with the contractor cost savings. It was proven by Dalhousie University that organizations can, and in Dalhousie's case did a much better job.

    'Huge Kudos to the Dal grounds crew. Dalhousie was an island of paradise in the city of frozen hell. Clearest walkways in the HRM!'

    An Online Comment on Dal Website:

  7. Ensure that curb cuts are properly designed to ease snow clearance of pedestrian street crossings.

  8. Liberate the map data on where the storm drains are so residents can help clear them and fire hydrants. Halifax Water would not release this this data. In progressive communities the utilities have an Adopt a Storm Drain/Hydrant Program. Consider this for Halifax. Why not do a cross promotion with the Mooseheads Hockey Team and reward volunteers with free tickets?

  9. An e311 using an Smartphone app like WhatsApp to record via text, voice and/or pics the GPS location of problems.

Public Input

We invite comments on the recommendations outlined above, they have been developed by concerned citizens.

Please feel free to email them before September 5th to:

Archival Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2015
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