Expansion of sidewalk snowclearing not in the budget for St. John's


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — It’s tough to think about snow on a hot mid-summer day, but a St. John’s city council decision Wednesday to reject sidewalk snowclearing expansion this winter is getting a cold response from some citizens.

"It's just not acceptable," said Anne Malone, a member of the Social Justice Co-operative NL, a group that addresses issues of social, economic and political inequality at home and abroad

"Accessibility is not a privilege. It's a right — for everyone.”

It's why she is disappointed with council's decision at its committee of the whole meeting to deny 18 requests from various groups and residents, who had asked council to consider expanding the city's sidewalk snowclearing program to include more sections of roads throughout the city.

However, citing budgetary concerns, most councillors agreed with city staff recommendations to not add more routes, as there is no budget allocated for the services, and noted it would reduce existing service levels. Instead, they opted to focus on improving existing routes.

They voted 6-2 against adding additional road segments, which would have seen a total operating cost of $100,000 per year and a total capital cost (per route) of $375,000.

They voted 7-1 for the option to add an additional shift to current sidewalk snowclearing services, which would see a total operating cost of $510,000 per year, and would be recommended in the budget process.

“While the whole council, every one of them, will speak enthusiastically about (the importance of) inclusion and human rights, when the rubber meets the road, (most) don’t vote in favour of that,” said Malone, who is visually impaired and plans to run for city council to make such issues a priority.