(Gananoque, ON – originally written March 5, 2023, with Town’s comments added March 7 (a.m.)) The snow situation is getting out of hand and Gananoque seniors are tired of it. Although there are snowploughs for the streets, and other ploughs for the sidewalks, as of March 5, snow between the sidewalk and the street is a hazard that many of them are finding extremely difficult to deal with.
“Gananoque is a town full of seniors, but if you park on the main street your passenger can’t get out of the car for the snowbanks,” said Lynette McLellan, local resident. “The snowbanks up the street are terrible. The driver must fine a small, shoveled part to let off their passengers or we have to walk a way in the road to get to the sidewalk. A few storekeepers shovel a way through so people can get to their stores, but cars often park in front of the spaces. Gananoque needs real answers to this problem and not just ‘we are doing the best we can.’”
With paid parking back, it is very difficult for them to understand why this snow is not being removed properly. It is not the responsibility of the local businesses to clear that area – the onus sits with the town itself.
“I took my scooter up Charles to King and was going to cross left to do some shopping,” said Susan Goodale of Gananoque. “A snowbank as high as my handlebars had never been cleared, restricting crossing over Charles to King. I had to back up, get back on Charles street. and get in the lane of traffic to turn onto the King Street sidewalk. How are we supposed to get around?”
This is a safety issue that many are outraged about. Although residents are clearing their neighbourhoods for the most part and making the curbs passable, the same cannot be said of the business district.
“As far as access from your cars to a particular business on King Street, it would be wonderful if each of the businesses would shovel a small path from front of their shop up to King Street for their customers to get onto sidewalk, even if it is not their personal responsibility,” said Goodale.
“You may not get a parking spot that is cleared directly outside the business you want to visit. We may have to search for vacant parking spots on King, hoping the business has removed the snow mound. That is my point – all retailers have to be diligent every day to make sure access adjacent to their business is free of snow. I was a business owner for 25 years in Kingston and it was my priority every morning to remove snow piles to allow my customers access to my shop. Here in Gananoque I can count on my one hand the number of local shops that get out and do this daily.”
On Friday a senior woman fell trying to get to the Post Office. She landed square on her bottom and was unhurt, but she was embarrassed. She was also concerned that the next person to fall might not be as fortunate. A postal employee did come out to shovel a narrow strip from the sidewalk to the traffic lane, and it was immediately put to use by people who wanted access to the sidewalk.
“I don’t know why town employees can’t shovel the snow – our taxes are high enough and it is their responsibility,” said McLellan. “The street cleaner piles the snow up on the meters, the road plough piles it up on them, too, now that they removed the parking bags and short seniors can’t reach the meters to put in money. Snow ploughing was done years ago at night and the streets were kept clean. Now this snow is frozen and more coming. The town needs to get with the program and make it safe for everyone.”
Some have suggested that local young people could be hired to shovel the snow, perhaps starting a program where they put their names on a list and make themselves available when needed. It would give local youth a way to get a little work experience, earn a little extra money, and take care of this snow removal problem at the same time.
With winter finally here, seniors say it is time for snow removal to catch up and keep up. People’s safety depends on it.
Town CAO Shellee Fournier was asked about why the situation had got to this point.
“Our staff worked tirelessly this past weekend (March 4/5) to clean up the accumulated snowfall,” she said. “In reviewing our operations with staff on Monday, it was noted that we were missing two of our main operators this weekend plus our loader was taken out of service late last week, rendering it unusable for this recent winter event. With that, Wellington Street sidewalks were not plowed until 11 p.m. Sunday evening. This was an oversight by our staff that was the result of staffing shortages and equipment breakdown.
“We do apologize for the inconvenience this caused and will use this instance as a learning experience to improve our services.
“Please note that the downtown snowbanks are scheduled to be removed this evening (Tuesday, March 7). This notice has been posted on the Town’s social media pages. Snowbank removal is coordinated ensuring that staffing hours meet the Ministry of Labour standards (minimum sleep times allowed and maximum operating hours in machinery). This removal also takes into consideration upcoming forecasted weather events.”
The seniors would like to remind the town that not everyone has a computer or internet access and that many of them would not see such a notice. Although they are grateful for the information, they hope there will be a better way of handling things in the future.