As the winter continues its assault on us, people all across Halifax are dealing with the snow and ice that has besieged our roads and sidewalks. Residents and some councillors have become frustrated with the performance of winter maintenance across our city. Providing a safe, city in which all residents are able to get from point A to B should be a number one priority. Over the last week many the conditions on many main roads have improved and allowed for safer travel by motorist. However, sidewalks all across our city remain treacherous and some are even impassable.
The debate has raged on in the media, on talk radio, local news and on social media about the level of winter maintenance. Councillor Mosher made the news talking about beet juice, and also have a request for a staff report that was debated yesterday at regional council. The debate yesterday was at times heated, and an emotional one. However the mantra extending from some councillors, that residents should accept this dangerous conditions across our city is ridiculous. The time for excuses has passed, and residents all across Halifax deserve action and respect from each and every councillor. I commend Councillor Mason and Councillor Watts as they have been vocal about the dangerous conditions that have been allowed to develop. At the end of the debate, the motion was approved that would allow an expanded post-mortem winter maintenance report to come to council.
Let our people walk: give us sidewalks and give us life!
This report is a normal occurrence that would come to regional council regardless of yesterday’s ask from council. However, this report will not reach the desks of councillors until August - in the middle of the summer. That I feel is very problematic because this is a time sensitive issue, and it is causing serious safety concerns. The most important action of a city is to ensure that residents can safely, and efficiently travel from point A to B – irregardless of their mode of transportation. Haligonians with mobility issues should not be held hostage for weeks on end because they can’t safely participate in our beautiful city. Expanding the focus of the staff report is positive, we need to consider alternatives and accept our climate is changing and we need to change too. What is wrong is waiting till August, when this issue could very well be in the back of the mind of many residents. Council is presently in the middle of budget deliberations from 2015-2016, so I feel it would be prudent in the not too distant future to bring this report back to council. If we need to adjust our snow clearing budget to accommodate a higher cost of additional supplies for winter maintenance – why put off what we can accomplish “today”.
Purple Rain, Purple Rain
Also, yesterday Councillor Mosher talked about considering the use of beet juice to be added to the salt brine mixture the city is currently using. I am fully open to considering anything that could help reduce the winter peril we have experienced this year. The City of Merritt in British Columbia has been incorporation beet juice into their winter arsenal since 2012 with much success. Not only has it helped to reduce build up on roads, it has allowed for cost savings on Spring Clean up and for winter maintenance labour costs. Accessibility year round on our sidewalks must be a number one priority of our fair city.
What would you like to see the city do? How are sidewalks in your part of Halifax?