Seniors faced with heavy, icy windrows blocking their driveways were upset on Thursday with the City of Red Deer.
The city is in the midst of its second residential snow plowing this winter.
One senior, 85-year-old Vi Pogmore, said she stood in front of the grader because she didn’t want her townhouse driveway blocked in Parkvale on 42nd Street Crescent.
“How else am I going to stop them from plowing my driveway or get some action?” said Pogmore.
The angry seniors all live on 42nd Street Crescent downtown.
Pogmore has lived there for 20 years. This is the first year the city has plowed the crescent and left windrows on driveways, she said.
The city revamped its snow clearing policy this winter in order to speed up the process and clear residential streets more often. In the past, it cleared the windrows from driveways.
“This is their new policy. Just plow and block the driveways,” Pogmore said.
The city did its first residential streets plow earlier this winter under the new policy, which also involves leaving smaller windrows on both sides of the streets, rather than alternating sides of the streets.
The city does make breaks in the windrows for back lane access, fire hydrants and where residents have an on-street city-approved handicapped sign.
Pogmore said her husband Bill, 86, shovelled the driveway out the first time. “But it’s really hard for him to do that. He does it but this is hard frozen ice.”
She called the city to complain after the first plowing but was told she would have to hire a private company to move the snow if she was unable to do it herself, she said.
“Most seniors are on a restricted income. We are paying healthy taxes in this area and why should we have to pay three or four hundred dollars for a private concern to come and clear out driveways if we are not able to do it ourselves””
Everyone who lives along the crescent is a senior and many cannot shovel, said Pogmore.
Her neighbour, Connie Bergen, 73, has emphysema and uses an oxygen tank.
“I’m OK. I’ve cooled off a bit,” she said when the Advocate returned her call.
Bergen said the piles of snow are at least two feet (30 cm) high.
She said the city plows dug the snow out of the centre of the street and furrowed it up on both sides, blocking the driveways.
“If city council made this rule, then city council ought to be prepared and come out and shovel our driveways out,” Bergen said.
A neighbour was checking to see what it would cost to get it trucked out, she said.
“Why do we have to pay that? We’d be better off if they left the snow on the street because we’ve been going back and forth out of here and nobody’s got stuck. Might as well just leave the snow on the street instead of making a furrow.”
“What would be better for us is if they left a furrow in the middle instead of out in front of each people’s driveways. We’re all seniors in here.”
She already pays to have her sidewalks and driveway shovelled when it snows. Someone comes by but she doesn’t have a contact number for him.
When the first plowing was done earlier, Bergen said she drove her vehicle back and forth over the windrow to pack it down and be able to drive out.
Public Works manager Greg Sikora said the city has received only a few complaints about this winter’s residential plowing.
He was through the 42nd Street Crescent area on Thursday and said the windrows are below 14 inches, which is the height the city aims for. While there, he said he helped one person get out of her driveway.
Sikora said it’s a tradeoff.
Under the previous policy, it would take the city 40 to 50 days to clear residential streets. Now the policy requires all residential streets with a snowpack of 10 cm to be plowed to five cm within 15 days.
The result is a smooth, drivable surface that allows people access into their neighbourhood without problems such as washboard and possible collisions.
Sikora said people who need help with clearing their driveways can turn to their neighbours, families, community groups, churches and agencies such as the Golden Circle. And for those who have the means, there is a list of contractors on the city’s website, he said.