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Pilot project could clear some Winnipeg sidewalks to pavement, not just hard snow

David Kron attaches spikes to the base of his cane to avoid slipping on Winnipeg’s icy sidewalks, but he still falls occasionally.

“And I don’t bounce like I used to. I used to get up very easily,” said Kron, president of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba.

Many members of his organization simply don’t go out in the winter because of the condition of the sidewalks, he said.

“Or they have to arrange a private carrier to take them door to door where they can’t just wheel down the street. This is a real problem.”

The City of Winnipeg’s snow removal policy requires only clearing residential sidewalks to a hard snow surface. Only the downtown sidewalks are plowed to bare pavement.

A proposal at City Hall would create a pilot project to test how a sidewalk in each of the city’s 15 boroughs would be cleared and leveled with downtown sidewalks.

The pilot was proposed by St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard, who said he was concerned about the quality of sidewalk cleaning in Winnipeg after falling while walking.

“I was wearing the right stuff and I really noticed that sidewalk service levels were dropping [a lot] to be desired,” he said in an interview.

Allard doesn’t think the project would require additional spending.

Second suggestion attempt

This is the second time Allard has made a proposal to clear sidewalks to the curb.

The first time was last September in response to a report on sidewalk cleaning. The council voted against the proposal after city officials said it could cause major damage to machinery due to the poor condition of many of the city’s sidewalks.

This time, Allard included a second city report that identified numerous sidewalks that the public service deemed to be in good enough condition not to need replacements. Those sidewalks would be ideal candidates for testing a more thorough snow removal method, Allard said.

“I think if there is a will, we could do that. Even if it were four sidewalks through residential neighborhoods in Winnipeg. And we need to move in that direction,” he said.

Clearing the sidewalks to the sidewalks would not only benefit those with mobility issues, but also encourage more Winnipeggers to get out of their cars and use active transportation, Allard said.

Kron, meanwhile, believes the pilot could highlight existing issues for city officials.

“I think it would probably let them know what the barriers are. Not all of our sidewalks are nice and smooth. And even,” he said.

“It would be a good goal to aim for. It would be good to find out and actually have a report and see where we can mitigate the problems we have.”

The Public Works Committee will vote on the proposal at a meeting on February 7.

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