When snow becomes a safety hazard
Jennifer Riddell said students have been forced to walk on the road on many occasions to get to Forest Park elementary school because the sidewalks haven’t been plowed. City engineer Justin Lawrence said school zones are priority.
A simple walk to school has become a safety hazard following heavy snowfall this winter, a parent at a elementary school says.
Jennifer Riddell said her son Lucas, who goes to Forest Park elementary school on Forest Avenue south of downtown, has been forced to walk on the sidewalk through sometimes knee-deep snow while she walks alongside on the road.
Lucas has autism and isn’t allowed on the road because he could run at any moment and get hit by a car. He had to walk in knee-deep snow on Monday morning before the sidewalks around the school were cleared, Riddell said.
“Forest Park seems to be that school that unfortunately doesn’t get plowed out or is the last to get plowed out,” she said.
The school has one bus because the majority of students at Forest Park walk.
Riddell said she’s seen students with physical disabilities forced to walk on the road because walking in the snow isn’t an option. She fears the day when a child falls on the road or gets hit by a car.
“There’s a lot of traffic on Forest (Avenue) when it’s the morning rush,” Riddell said.
The solution is to have schools at the top of the priority list when it comes to plowing sidewalks, Riddell said.
She said she understands the city may be overwhelmed with the amount of snowfall lately but something has to be done before a tragedy occurs.
“In the school districts they have to be cleaned,” Riddell said.
City engineer Justin Lawrence said school zones and other streets with high pedestrian traffic are at the top of the priority list.
The Municipal Act sets minimum maintenance standards that defines what cities have to do and how fast they have to respond to snowfall. Sidewalks aren’t listed in the minimum maintenance standards so cities can set any level of service for sidewalks they want to, Lawrence said.
St. Thomas has routes for sidewalk plows that are broken down into primary and secondary. Forest Avenue is a primary route.
The city of St. Thomas generally plows the sidewalks when there is an accumulation of 15 centimetres of snow with the five sidewalk plows it owns.
Lawrence said the reason there was so much snow of the sidewalks on Monday morning is because road plows were out Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“When the road plow goes by it, depending on how the sidewalk is oriented, it sometimes pushes the snow onto the sidewalk,” Lawrence said.
The sidewalk plow then has to push the snow back, he added.
The sidewalk plow had been to Forest Avenue on Saturday but it hadn’t been done after the road plow had been by on Sunday, Lawrence said.
Forest Park seems to be that school that unfortunately doesn’t get plowed out or is the last to get plowed out.” Jennifer Riddell When the road plow goes by it (Forest Park), depending on how the sidewalk is oriented, it sometimes pushes the snow onto the sidewalk.” Justin Lawrence, city engineer
Jennifer Riddell said her son was forced to walk through snow Monday that was knee deep to get to school after a heavy snowfall because the sidewalk hadn’t been plowed.