Snow-clear­ing chal­lenge.

Con­fined to a wheelchair, Elma Rowsell clears her own drive­way each time it snows

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - clarence.ngoh@gan­der­bea­

Con­fined to a wheelchair, Elma Rowsell clears her own drive­way each time it snows.

GAN­DER, NL – The dron­ing sound of snow-blow­ers and scrap­ing of shov­els on drive­ways filled the neigh­bour­hood af­ter a fresh dump of snow on Jan. 16. This typ­i­cal win­ter scene is no dif­fer­ent for Elma Rowsell, 75, when she comes out­side to clear her drive­way – ex­cept for one thing. She has to do it in her wheelchair. Rowsell lives in wheelchair ac­ces­si­ble hous­ing pro­vided by the New­found­land Labrador Hous­ing Com­mis­sion (NHLC). She re­ceived ra­di­a­tion treat­ment 20 years ago and suf­fered nerve da­m­age in the spinal col­umn, con­fin­ing her to a wheelchair. Tack­ling a snow­fall is chal­leng­ing, but Rowsell is used to it. “Well, you can’t quit,” she says, armed with a shovel and a pair of warm mit­tens. “I’ve been do­ing this a long time.” It’s not very of­ten other peo­ple of­fer to help her. And due to his de­mand­ing work sched­ule, Rowsell’s son, Wade Pel­ley, can only drop by on week­ends. “Dur­ing the week days, she comes down and does it, and I yells at her,” Pel­ley laughed, re­signed to Rowsell’s stub­born and de­fi­ant na­ture. But Pel­ley be­lieves more can be done for Rowsell and oth­ers in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. “For low-in­come hous­ing with wheelchair ac­ces­si­bil­ity, New­found­land and Labrador Hous­ing should at least be re­spon­si­ble for snow clear­ing,” he said. How­ever, a state­ment pro­vided by the NHLC to the Bea­con quoted the ten­ant lease agree­ment, which states that “the re­moval of ice and snow from en­trance walks in­clud­ing the pub­lic side­walks fronting and/or abut­ting on the leased premises shall be the re­spon­si­bly of all ten­ants re­sid­ing in res­i­den­tial houses.” Fur­ther, the NLHC stated it is not fi­nan­cially fea­si­ble to as­sist ten­ants who have ac­ces­si­bil­ity is­sues. “NLHC has 5,599 so­cial hous­ing units through­out the prov­ince, many of which are in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. “It would be chal­leng­ing both phys­i­cally and fi­nan­cially for NLHC to have peo­ple avail­able in ev­ery com­mu­nity where our units are lo­cated to as­sist ten­ants with ac­ces­si­bil­ity or other health con­cerns when­ever there is a snow storm.”


Elma Rowsell is con­fined to a wheelchair af­ter suf­fer­ing nerve da­m­age from ra­di­a­tion treat­ment. She clears her drive­way each time it snows. Due to a de­mand­ing work sched­ule, her son, Wade Pel­ley can only as­sist her on the week­ends. New­found­land and Labrador Hous­ing does not as­sist with snow-clear­ing for homes with ac­ces­si­ble ac­cess.

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