Improving Snow Removal in Calgary

Everyone has their opinion about the weather, but many agree that snow removal efforts were lacking this year.

This winter was especially rough in Calgary. The snow seemed never ending, and getting around was challenging for many.

The Standing Policy Committee on Transit and Transportation has called for research on improving snow removal. They are looking at fine enforcement for people who don’t clear their sidewalks in 24 hours, as well as, identifying high use areas, exploring options for faster times for the City to clear snow, guidelines for wheelchair ramps, and more.

This notice points out that Calgary clears a much smaller percentage of sidewalks (11 per cent) compared to Ottawa (90 per cent) and Toronto (75 per cent). We also spend less overall, and have the second highest slip and fall rates in the country.

The City is meeting on June 7 to decide what actions, if any, need to be taken to improve snow clearing for pedestrians.

Why is this important to the Women’s Centre?

Snow removal policies have a different impact on women and men.

Karlskoga Sweden decided to revisit their snow removal policies with a gender lens in 2014. After looking at how women and men were getting around the city, they changed the order of snow removal, shifting priorities from roadways to pedestrian high-traffic areas, like schools, day cares and hospitals. Other transit research supports the conclusion that men are more likely to commute to the downtown core, and then back to their homes each day. Women, in comparison, are more likely to rely on public transit to make multiple stops or connections to public spaces while running errands. A few centimeters of snow would impact their commute on foot much more than drivers on roadways.

Snow is also a significant barrier to people with reduced mobility, low income families who use transit or share a vehicle, or parents with young children pushing strollers through snow banks.

What can you do?

The Women’s Centre and Disability Action Hall are looking for feedback to inform the councillors on the Transit and Transportation Committee. Let us know how snow and ice has affected your ability to get around in the comments below, or write to sarelle@womenscentrecalgary.org.

3 Responses to Improving Snow Removal in Calgary

  1. Tove Engebretsen says:

    I live in a senior building in Hillhurst. Many people in my building could often not get out on walks this winter because of the snowbanks from sidewalks to streets. Especially with walkers, this was hard to handle. We also had problems getting on and off buses. It was hazardous and the bus drivers told everyone to take their time. It would be so much nicer if the snow banks were not there. I am so pleased that Druh Farrell and the Calgary Women’s Centre are trying to do something about it.

  2. I’m grateful for the opportunity to voice my thoughts.

    As a spry 70 year old, I’m especially cautious during the winter months and have learned to pigeon-walk in tracker-boots over black ice-covered in snow. I go inch by inch. I read that as we age, muscle tissue thins out on each side of our upper legs and hips, and does so unevenly, leaving one leg slightly longer than the other. This uneven leg length increases the risk of Seniors tripping on ice, a raised cement lip, or on one of those super-slippery city air grids that I am especially fearful of. Especially dangerous, I circumvent them.

    Falling is still the leading cause of death in Seniors – unnecessary and preventable.

    The building owner here had hand railings installed from the front door right down to the street. I’m so grateful for the extra security on slippery stairs.

    I want to also congratulate Calgary for the long indoor walk-through corridors from 8th Street (The Sandman Hotel) all the way to Bow College that assures safe passage for so many of us who can access it from downtown. I can shop at the beautiful TD Core easily because of this interior corridor. Many others further from the center are not so fortunate.

    While I do my part by wearing quality well-treaded boots and by walking carefully and slowly, I also know many Senior or wheel-chaired/walker acquaintances who, all winter long, shop on Amazon.ca and socialize on-line using Facebook from home during the winter months. I rarely see them – and when I do, I notice how much weight they’ve gained – and how depressed they seem! Not good.

    I sincerely hope that more effort can be made to keep our streets clear of ice and slippery snow.
    I appreciate the privilege of negotiating my way to the bus stops to get to my two volunteer jobs, my Senior line dance classes, my writing group and the library where I meet friends for coffee – all of which add to my good cheer and positive attitude.

    At one bus stop on Home Road NW though, the bus driver kindly hauled me into the bus over the huge snow bank I struggled to climb over at the bus entry. We both laughed – but that was because I was able to scramble up. Some simply are not.

    Thank you so very, very much for your critically important efforts!

  3. Marnie Shaw says:

    I am unemployed and financially challenged and depend on walking and transit to get around. I live between 40th Avenue North West and 32nd Avenue North West and often need to walk on 40th Avenue North West and 32nd Avenue North West. 32nd Avenue North West does not even have a sidewalk on either side of the street in the area I live in. The sidewalk on 40th Avenue North West gets so bad in the winter [not just this winter] that I normally have to walk in the street, hoping that I will not get hit by a car. I have often fallen or almost fallen on the ice, luckily not hurting myself too much, perhaps because I am not tall. In April, I had to walk on the sidewalk on the 40th Avenue North West underpass under Crowchild Trail North West and it was totally flooded out, but I had no choice; I had to walk there anyway. I have often wondered how less able-bodied people than I am manage and have concluded that they must end up largely housebound. With the amount of trouble that I, an able-bodied person, encounter; well, it would be virtually impossible for an older person or a person needing a wheelchair or a walker. I wish that the City of Calgary would spend more money on snow, ice, and water removal instead of wasting money on Olympic bids. 🙁