Ottawa needs to step up clearing sidewalks so PWD aren’t trapped after snowfall.

ABOVE: Due to snow blocked sidewalks, PDW are unable to leave home, let alone take OC Transpo.

Ottawa experienced its first snowfall a few days ago. In that short period, residents are already losing their minds.

Rightfully so.

As usual, the LRT system experienced mechanical issues, both buses and Para Transpo were delayed. I haven’t heard any news of OC Transpo buses getting stuck in the snow, but it’s a regular occurrence. Sidewalks were, and remain poorly plowed, and in several areas, not at all.

BUT….fear not, drivers, it appears that most of the main roads have been cleared.

For the record, I haven’t ventured out. I’ve been reading and seeing pictures on social media, and it’s frustrating that nothing has changed.

Sure enough, it’s the same old story.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

I was sitting at home watching the news the night before the snowstorm. During the report regarding the storm, a city staff member in charge of snow clearing was interviewed. During the interview, they mentioned the city’s prepared and crews would be out all weekend.

You know the drill. We all know the drill by now.

The following day, I wake up, look outside my window, and a part of me dies.

Yes, I was fully expecting a significant snowfall, but it’s still a shock to the system and not just to mine.

Soon after I saw the snow, I went on social media to see various pictures that had been posted. While most of them were beautiful, my brain defaulted to *accessibility mode*.

My first thought was, how wheelchair accessible is that sidewalk, and how would a PWD navigate it?

Having that mindset can be both a blessing and a curse.

It snowed for 24 hours. I understand snow clearing is more difficult when the snow is still falling. That makes sense.

However, the major roads seemed to look much cleaner than sidewalks and several bike lanes.

Yes, roads are vital for emergency crews, buses, Para Transpo, etc.

Keep in mind, though, without proper clearing of sidewalks, people can’t easily get to bus stops. For PWD, it’s often impossible.

Ottawa seems to forget that people with disabilities don’t just use Para Transpo to get around the city. We also use OC Transpo buses, and some of us also use the LRT and rely on our mobility devices.

Along with people with disabilities using public transit, so do PSW, caregivers, and others that PWD and those who are vulnerable rely on. 

All sidewalks, pathways leading to the bus, and LRT should be a top priority for snow clearing.

For years, people with disabilities have been telling the city to do a better job. We MUST have cleaner sidewalks to get to where we NEED to go, even those that only take Para Transpo. There are several places in Ottawa where Para Transpo users need to use the sidewalk to board a Para Transpo vehicle. Not all pick-ups and drop-offs are door-to-door friendly.

If the city of Ottawa doesn’t want to do it for PWD, do it for the caregivers, parent(s) with strollers, and those vulnerable who rely on others.

I really wish that I didn’t need to repeat myself. The city clearly isn’t listening and doesn’t care about anyone that doesn’t drive.

Seriously, what do we need to do for the city to notice that not everyone drives?

Ottawa, like most places, is filled with people who require mobility devices, seniors, cyclists of all types, and public transit users.

Nobody should be stuck at home due to unsafe, inaccessible sidewalks, bus stops, and bike lanes.

Besides the fact, we all have places to go, consider the impact on those with mental health challenges. Some may not be able to get to their appointments. The same goes for those requiring chemo, dialysis, and other essential medical treatment.

Just in general, we all need to get outside for fresh air and our well-being.

The parking lot outside my place isn’t bad. If I need to board Para Transpo, I’d be able to. I don’t know how much snow has been cleared at my destination.

Based on past experiences, I can figure out which places Para Transpo is able to drop me off and pick me up at the door.

SPOILER: Most malls, government buildings, and hospitals.

Other than those places, it’s basically a gamble.

The other thing I never quite understood is that Ottawa brags about two things: Winterlude and having the World’s longest skating rink. In a city that welcomes tourists during the winter, why can’t we make the citizens of Ottawa feel welcome and heard?