Accommodation policy helping disabled residents and senior citizens with snow removal in Pincher Creek

·3 min read

The Town of Pincher Creek will once again lend a helping hand to residents this winter by sending contractors to the houses of elderly and disabled citizens to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks.

Formally referred to as the snow accommodation policy, the free service is available to residents aged 65 or older who are receiving the Alberta Seniors Benefit and are not able-bodied.

Residents under 65 may also apply, as long as they have proof of a permanent or temporary disability that limits their mobility, including wheelchair users or individuals with serious injuries.

“We recognize the fact that there are some residents who have these sidewalks in front of their houses that are physically incapable of doing it,” says John Herasemluk, community peace officer.

Applicants must reside in a residential property that borders a municipal sidewalk and they must be present on the property during winter months.

Residents who live in care homes or apartment complexes and those who live with an able-bodied family member under 65 will not be considered.

The policy applies only to sidewalks and does not include driveways, doorsteps, roadways or alleyways.

Those interested in applying, can fill out the online application at bit.ly/3CfN4vT and submit it to the town office. All applications must be submitted with proof of Alberta Seniors Benefit assistance and either a notice of medical proof from a qualified health-care practitioner or a copy of an accessible-parking permit issued by Service Alberta.

The service, officially approved by council in 2019, was a product of community expansion.

“We started putting in new sidewalks around streets that historically never had sidewalks,” Herasemluk says, adding that this project drew attention to the fact that not everyone is able to keep up with the town’s sidewalk snow-removal requirements.

This was accompanied by a garbage-disposal program operating on similar principles, allowing the town garbage team to pick up bins directly from the properties of participants rather than from the street, saving certain residents from having to carry bins to the curb.

To apply for this service, visit bit.ly/3DaH3lK.

Herasemluk says there are currently 23 residents in the snow-removal program and 12 in the garbage-disposal program.

Not all residents are completely satisfied with the policy, however.

Kathleen Hancock says she’d like to see it changed to accommodate a wider range of circumstances.

Hancock and her husband, senior residents, are the primary occupants of a house at the west end of Pincher Creek. Their driveway, she says, faces the back alley, and when it snows, it becomes difficult for them to back out of their driveway and exit the property. They’ve been stuck a few times, she adds.

The town used to clear the alley so the garbage truck could access the lane and pick up bins, she says, but stopped after upgrading to a newer model of truck too big to fit down the narrow passageway.

Hancock and her husband are not eligible for the snow-clearing service, as the policy covers only sidewalks. Although a neighbour has been helping them clear their portion of the alley, Hancock feels they shouldn’t have to be responsible for it all the time and that another option should be offered.

Herasemluk says the policy doesn’t include driveways or alleyways because it was created for the sole purpose of accommodating the town bylaw, which states all residents must clear their sidewalks within 48 hours of snowfall.

The service, he adds, serves only to prevent seniors and disabled individuals from being fined for violating the bylaw when they have an extenuating circumstance.

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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