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Letter: Algonquin Road hill needs snow-clearing priority

Resident says heavy snowfall makes the roadway practically impassible, for residents and for emergency vehicles
typewriter pexels-min-an-1448709 (From Pexels by Min An)

I am a senior citizen with some mobility issues. I live on a hill off Algonquin Road that is roughly 300 ft (100 meters) long with a “turnaround” at the top. 

I have lived here for more than 50 years, as others have too. When we get a heavy snowfall, driving up the hill can be a challenge to just about anyone. Because the street is “T-boned” with Algonquin Road it is impossible to make a “run” at the hill — you are starting at too low a speed and cannot gain the necessary momentum.

When we had a snowfall on Dec. 15 and 16, the snow-covered hill defeated everyone, including delivery vehicles and even the city recycling truck. The garbage truck and the recycling trucks usually manage quite well, but not that time.

The following week (Dec. 23) after a heavy snowfall, the recycling truck didn’t even bother to show up. On both occasions, the snowplow did not show up until much later.

The worst was yet to come. We had a substantial snowfall on Dec. 27-28, not by any means as significant as some of the past 50 years. The snow had stopped by 9 a.m. on Dec. 28. Although the snowplow had earlier plowed Algonquin Road, it bypassed Maurice Street leaving, of course, a substantial snow bank across Maurice Street. I left to attend some business in town and returned at 1 p.m. and Maurice Street had not been cleared. 

In spite of excellent snow tires, my vehicle could not make it up the hill. I had to abandon it at the bottom and, with some help, walked up the hill to my home (at the midway point). 

A snowplow arrived to clear a neighbour’s driveway. At the same time, he made a pass down the hill clearing a portion wide enough for a car. Other neighbours, myself included, cleared portions of the road in front of our driveways as we cleared our driveways. This enabled me to get my car up the hill and safely into my driveway. Others also managed with some challenge to drive up the hill.

The city snowplow came during the night to finally clear the snow properly — what was left of it anyway.

There are retired people living on Maurice Street, one person in her 90s. No doubt our location is not unique as there must be similar challenging roads across the city when there is a snowstorm. 

If they are anything like Maurice Street, it would be impossible for an ambulance to attend an emergency; fire trucks would never be able to attend a house fire, and; people who have medications delivered would have to go without. 

In April, I had three emergency ambulance visits due to severe internal hemorrhaging. If I had had this emergency this week, the consequences could have been extremely serious. (Thankfully the surgeons at Health Sciences North fixed my problem).

There is supposed to be a municipal safety supervisor. I wonder how qualified, trained or competent that person is. Surely, there is an inventory or record of problem side streets that really need to be cleared in cases of an emergency. 

Also, where there are such streets, what do people have to do with their vehicles if they cannot gain access to there driveways? They must park somewhere, but finding a safe spot on that won’t cause a further hazard or impede the snowplow isn’t always an option? Are we expected to wait in our vehicle for 24 hours or more for a snowplow to finally show up?

So maybe it is past the time to develop a priority access inventory of locations where access to emergency vehicles – including access to where people reside that require medical and other health amenities, supplies and home care medical/nursing attention — is maintained. 

After all, it is not every snowfall that might require such attention.

Time to make our community a much safer one. How do we explain to an insurance company that a house fire could not be extinguished and people rescued because the fire trucks could not get close enough? How do you explain to bereaved families that a family member died because the first responders could not reach the patient in time?

So is time for action.

Lionel W.F. Rudd