MINTO – A local senior would like to see the Town of Minto put more resources into clearing local sidewalks during the winter months.
“I am very unhappy with this town after spending this winter trying to get exercise and fresh air while walking around a simple block with my dog. This past month I have had to stop walking altogether. Just getting to an arena to exercise is dangerous,” Palmerston resident Joan Burnett stated in a letter to council.
Addressing council the Feb. 18 meeting Burnett asked how the decisions are made on which sidewalks get cleared.
“My sidewalk … does not get shoveled, but across the street at the Legion, it does get shoveled,” said the Daly Street resident.
“Who decides which sidewalks get plowed and why and which ones are not important enough to get plowed?” Burnett asked in her letter.
“There are some senior people I know have been seriously injured with broken hips, shoulders and knocked unconscious from falling on frozen rutted walks not plowed and frozen snow bumps that have been plowed onto the black ice roads. The Town of Minto is the bottom line when it comes to these injuries,” she stated in the letter, adding, “Is it not more expedient to buy another sidewalk plow rather than have to pay for personal injuries?”
Burnett asked that the town’s roads department “plan for an improved level of care” for local sidewalks.
Mayor George Bridge noted that over the last five years the town has spent $732,000 on sidewalks through the operating budget.
“So we’re trying to get there,” he said.
“This council has been very supportive of sidewalks,” Bridge continued. “When we get extra money we try put it into sidewalks … It doesn’t seem like a lot but we do 2.3 kilometres of sidewalks a year, we anticipate about 2.5 kilometres again this year.”
Bridge explained that while the town tries to put sidewalks on both sides of the street when upgrading, it is sometimes necessary to do only one side in order to make the path wide enough for plowing equipment to be used.
“It’s just part of what we can do on a budget,” he said.
While acknowledging that some seniors don’t have vehicles, the mayor pointed out “We do have indoor walking available in both Palmerston and Harriston.
“Maybe we can work out something with some neighbours or whatever, or even with some groups to get people to those walking sessions,” Bridge added.
While the amount spent on sidewalks might not seem like a lot, Bridge pointed out “Our budget’s only about $5.6 million. That’s all we have to do the whole town and everything we try to do.”
“I’m not criticizing the town … the town has been well looked after,” said Burnett.
Bridge said upper tier governments need to share more tax dollars with municipalities in order to allow them to provide better services.
“We (municipalities) have nine per cent of the revenue and 60 per cent of the infrastructure … We’re limited on our property tax base as to how much we can do.”