Hamilton to review annual snow clearing, potentially to adapt Vision Zero measures

More changes to Hamilton’s level of snow clearing may be coming after councilors asked staff to review service levels in alignment with city’s Vision Zero plan.

At play is the relationship between traffic safety and accessibility for vulnerable road users during inclement weather.

The evaluation is expected to look at everything from HSR bus boarding to neighborhood pathways and fixes to snow windrows –  piles of snow left at the bottom of a driveway after a snowplow has cleared the road.

Tim Dolan, representing the Accessibility Hamilton Alliance, also suggested the city needs to better address ‘curb cuts’ since they’re often piled with snow hindering seniors and those with mobility issues trying to cross roads.

“If the corners are intended to be curb cuts for people who use mobility devices and the plows that plow the snow from the road block those curb cuts, what’s the point of the curb cut?” said Dolan.

Transportation director Mike Field told councillors he agreed there’s “a real solid connection” between the city’s snow removal initiatives and the Vision Zero plan.

“I think we’ve all seen them during a winter storm where there’s someone either in a wheelchair or a walker using the road instead of the sidewalk, because the road is inaccessible,” Field said. “That is fundamentally in opposition of the principles of Vision Zero.”

On the subject of curb cuts, he said the city’s sidewalk snow-clearing program generally covers those, but not in all instances.

“Some of them are required to be cleared by residents or property owners,” Field explained. “So there is a bit of difference from that respect, but generally, I would say that it’s all-encompassing.”

The review is expected back to the Public Works Committee before the end of August with possible level of service revisions and best practices including cost and resourcing implications.

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