Clearing sidewalks is a bylaw in most cities.

Failing grade for Lower Mainland snow response: head of care providers’ group

CEO says the lack of snow removal on sidewalks and side streets is a cause of concern for seniors needing basic care.

Metro Vancouver residents would be give most cities a big ‘F’ for their efforts – or lack thereof – to clear icy sidewalks and side streets, says the head of BC Care Providers.

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the group that represents care aides, has joined the chorus of those criticizing municipalities across the Lower Mainland for not salting roads or clearing snow fast enough, resulting in many streets being turned into virtual skating rinks.

“Sadly, I think that this particular season, we let it go,” Fontaine said. “If we cannot deal with this mild crisis, heaven help us if we were to have an earthquake.”

RELATED: Many Langley sidewalks are hazardous to elderly, disabled

Icy roads are preventing care aids from getting to seniors’ homes for basic care like medication and grocery deliveries, he said, and seniors themselves don’t feel safe enough to leave home because the risk of slipping and falling just too high.

Social isolation during extreme weather becomes a big concern, he added, because some elderly people choose to stay inside for weeks, and friends and family find it hard to visit as often.

Municipalities also need to do a better job of enforcing residential sidewalk clearing, he said.

In Maple Ridge, bylaws state that clearing of snow must happen by 10 a.m., while in Surrey, it must be done as soon as possible.

RELATED: Better snow removal system is needed here in B.C.

“If the city doesn’t have the time to clean its own sidewalks, why would they go out there?” Fontaine said.

Volunteer programs, such as the Snow Angels, in various cities are trying their best to help clear sidewalks and driveways for those in need, he noted, but some groups like the program in Vancouver are overwhelmed with calls.

RELATED: Snow angels answered plea for help

He urged residents to knock on the doors of seniors nearby and check in on them.

“After three or four or five weeks, they may not have basic groceries, and may not be inclined to reach out.”

As Arctic air continues to infiltrate B.C., snow showers are expected for the Lower Mainland late Thursday into Friday, The Weather Network reports.

Snow angel programs across the region

Interested in helping in your community? Here’s where to look to join local snow angel efforts:

Coquitlam: coquitlam.ca/public-safety/winter-wise/snow-angels.aspx

Delta: delta.ca/services/seniors/snow-angels

Maple Ridge: mapleridge.ca/1236/Snow-Angel-Program

Burnaby: burnaby.ca/City-Services/Public-Safety/Winter-Snow-Angels.html

Vancouver: vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/snow-angel.aspx

Chilliwack: cdsrs.ca/programs—services.html


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