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August 1, 2015

Snow Clearing

If you haven't met Gerry Post, he is a very smart and energetic guy who is a member of the HRM Accessibility Advisory Committee. He and his colleagues had the foresight to make a submission to the consultant reviewing winter snow removal operations, Grant, Thornton. Despite this action, none of the 7 practical recommendations rated even a mention in the final report. I urge you to send an email to Gerry's list of Councilors, wondering why they even bother with an Accessibility Advisory Committee and demanding that they pay more than lip service to thoughtfully made observations. The millions of dollars in lost business, lost wages, the damage to Halifax's reputation and the plain inconvenience to citizens due to poor policy calls for more than tinkering with a bad plan.

Regional Council will be taking this up August 4 at 10 AM.  Please attend!

I yield the floor to Gerry:

Dear Concerned Citizen,
Below is my concern regarding a report that will be discussed by City Council this Tuesday. It's also posted on Facebook. Feel free to share but better still, contact your council member and the Mayor.

The HRM staff report is available on the HRM website

Warm regards on this beautiful Natal Day weekend!

Gerry

To: Mike Savage, Waye Mason, Steve Craig, Pat Gate, Jennifer Watts, Jennifer Weagle, Joshua Bates
Subject: Winter Clearance Report

Dear All,

I am very disappointed in the report...here is my reason!

HRM Snow Clearance Report Relegates Transit Users, Seniors and People with Disabilities to Second Class Citizen Status

Halifax City Council will be reviewing a staff report regarding the future of snow removal after the terrible winter of 2014-15. However none of the recommendations made at the Halifax Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting with the Consultants and HRM Staff have been taken into consideration.

The report promises more consultation, what we need is ACTION!

The result: Those with cars will be able to get to work within 12 hours of a snow storm while those dependent on public transit have to wait 48 hours for bus stops to be cleared. It particularly impacts those with mobility challenges (Seniors and the Disabled) because they can't jump over snow banks.

It flies in the face of Council's policy that made Accessibility one of its 3 priorities in the Mayor's Healthy Communities initiative. It's a form of social discrimination because it affects those who can least afford to lose 2 days of pay! And if Halifax is serious about transit it should accommodate transit users to at least the same mobility standard as car owners.


Below are the recommendations that were submitted to the Consultants:

To: Grant Thornton Consultants

Re: Halifax Winter Snow Clearance Review

Further to my input at the HRM Accessibility Advisory Committee, I thought I would express my thoughts in writing and wanted to thank you in taking the time to attend our committee meeting. Here are my thoughts and recommendations:
  1. The snow clearance standard of sidewalks and bus stops should be the same as the street they are adjacent to. At present all bus stops are to be cleared within 48 hrs, this is unacceptable for stops along tier 1 roads which have a 12 hr clearance standard. 
  2. Snow clearance at bus stops should be to the curb so that buses can use their ramps to allow wheel chairs to access transit. 
  3. The bus stop shelters should be cleared to same standard. 
  4. At signaled pedestrian crossings care must be taken to clear snow so that wheel chairs can access the activation button. This is especially important with high snow banks. It's difficult for motorists to see chairs because of their low profile and the flashing crossing lights become all the more important. 
  5. Consider giving sidewalk clearance responsibility back to property owners. I think they would do a better job, save $ and instil civic responsibility and pride into neighbourhoods. As well it provides for a socialization activity for neighbours during the dreary days of winter. It worked that way in my neighbourhood in Halifax and sidewalks were cleaner then than they are now. A good gauge of this are the postmen, ask them! 
  6. Ensure that curb cuts are properly designed to ease clearance. 
  7. Liberate the map data on where the storm drains are so residents can help clear them and fire hydrants. Halifax Water would not release this data. This is plain stupid, those who are tech savvy could finds this data using Google StreetView. In progressive communities the utilities encourage this by having a Adopt a Storm Drain/Hydrant program and provide rewards such as tickets to sporting events. Why not do a cross promotion with the Mooseheads Hockey team! 
Thanks again for your time and should you wish any clarification do not hesitate to contact me at 902-222-4487.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gerry Post

Member, HRM Accessibility Advisory Committee

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