Snow and Accessibility – Update
If we learned anything from last year’s heat dome, it’s that we need to pay attention to friends, family, and loved ones who have special needs when weather patterns change and make moving around more difficult. We need to check in on them and assist wherever possible. We need to ensure the heat is on, that they have food, and are not in any danger. Naturally, DDA focuses on its clients who have developmental disabilities, but these recommendations fall to elderly loved ones too.
Fortunately, we haven’t seen much snow yet on the south coast, but when it does hit the Lower Mainland the region essentially shuts down. The weather quickly shows how independence is hampered not just by snow, but by a city’s inability to deal with it. For even the most able-bodied person, walking on snow-covered sidewalks and streets can become quite hazardous. Now, think of people with limited mobility or who may need assistive devices.
Uneven sidewalks appear level as snow settles and hides raised portions. Side streets become undrivable as the focus for clearing stays on the main arteries. Many homeowners in the Lower Mainland lack proper snow-clearing equipment or salt for sidewalks in front of their homes. When the snow comes, we often see people racing to stores only to have supplies quickly run out. Accessibility for everyone instantly becomes a huge problem.
Often, people with mobility issues are forced to stay inside and make the best of it. Wait out the storm as they say, and trust in the goodness of others to get their needs met. That means people with disabilities and the elderly might be stuck inside for long periods of time, which can have a negative impact on mental health. At DDA’s group homes, we do everything we can to ensure our clients are happy, healthy, and entertained when going outside becomes treacherous.
So let’s all double our efforts to make sure our sidewalks are free from snow as much as possible. Look ahead and see what your property’s needs are and avoid the rush at stores. Let’s be respectful and patient if people need more time and space to get around. Reach out to family and friends who are part of this vulnerable group and offer help should they need it.
Just so you know…
City of Vancouver Policy – ‘Vancouver property owners and occupants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks in front of and, if on a corner lot, alongside their property by 10 am the morning following a snowfall or freezing temperatures.’
Failure to get the snow cleared in time can result in fines between $250 and $800, depending on the type of property.
In Richmond – According to Section 6.1 of the amended Bylaw, the property owner or occupier must remove all snow and ice from any sidewalk adjacent to their property no later than 10:00am daily.
A new $70 ticketable penalty can be issued each time a property owner fails to comply with the bylaw.