Snow piles proving treacherous for Kamloops' disabled

By Jill Sperling
January 10, 2017 - 4:55pm Updated: January 10, 2017 - 5:43pm

KAMLOOPS — City crews have been out in force, working countless hours to remove snow and ice from city streets. However, as they clear a path for Kamloops' motorists the piles of snow become a hazard for the disabled. 

Kamloops residents have had to brave the snowy roads more than a few times this winter, but those responsible for clearing the snow say the season is nothing out of the ordinary.

"So far it's been pretty normal snowfalls," said Joe Luison, Streets and Sign Shop Supervisor with the City of Kamloops. "Crews have been working around the clock when they have occurred. We have contacted some contract graders as well in this latest snowfall, so not too abnormal but definitely keeping us busy."

While recent snowfall isn't a concern for the city, it is for Brayden Spijksma. He's visually impaired and finds it difficult to get around his Batchelor Heights neighbourhood amidst the tall piles of ice and snow. 

"The city clearly plows the roads," he said, "but what they do with the extra snow is they just plow it onto the sidewalk where that just creates a problem for anybody like myself who has a disability, or anybody else wishing to take public transport, or just get from point A to point B." 

Luison maintains residential sidewalks are not the city's responsibility, but adds recent steps have been taken to assist those taking public transportation. 

"We do put some emphasis on bus routes, like say windrows along bus stops and such," Luison said. "We've actually started a new program this year where we've taken on a couple park staff just to do a metre wide path from the actual bus stop to the road through the windrow to help assist some of those people, but unfortunately if it's your residential sidewalk, you're responsible for it." 

For Spijksma, a one metre gap is difficult to find.

"I can only see out the bottom and the top is white, so when there's white snow all around me it's difficult to find those details like that small gap to get in."

Lyons Landscaping provides some assistance to those unable to clear their own path. 

"We have a number of subcontractors that do provide services for us," owner Colin Lyons said, "a lot of those require hand shoveling. Of course the equipment is too big for that, so there are a number of hand shovel contracts that we service as well." 

That service helps clear the sidewalk, but without a complete snow removal from residential neighbourhoods Spijksma's commute is not likely to get any easier until spring.

Snow removal processes challenged by cold weather