By neglecting to plow sidewalk access to a schoolyard all winter, the city has been endangering children that use the path to attend a Charleswood elementary school, a local resident says.
Larry Zarychanski lives next to one such sidewalk that runs the length of his Kersey Bay property. The path is about 100 feet long and acts as a corridor between homes to give access from the residential area to a field behind Westgrove School.
Zarychanski, 68, says young children using the route to go to and from school stumble on the uneven path, or push each other, and because the snow is packed so high the chain-link fence that borders the walkway could injure a falling child.
"We’re talking a steel wire fence here, and all that has to happen is kids fall and they can hit their eyes or face against (the top of the fence), that’s how high the snow is."
Last Thursday children could be seen using the path, which runs atop packed snow, as high as the three-foot fence in some spots, to get to school.
Two other similar sidewalks – from Honeybourne Crescent and Lavenham Crescent – also provide residential access to the field and also appeared unplowed. The Honeybourne Crescent sidewalk had an added challenge of a ridge several feet high blocking its entrance.
Zarychanski said he has lived in his home for 42 years and the city has always cleared the three sidewalks, though sometimes only after he’s called to complain. He’s called the city’s 311 hotline three times this year, he said, without result. One operator left him on hold and returned to the phone to say the sidewalk is not the city’s responsibility, he said.
Gord Howe, director of facilities and operations for the Pembina Trails School Division, said the unplowed condition of the three sidewalk corridors behind Westgrove School came to his attention this year.
"It ended up in my hands and I called 311 and spent about a good half hour on the phone with them and they pulled up their maps and confirmed that it is (city) property," he said.
"They are aware that they should be doing it…they’ve been contacted on a couple of occasions."
Howe said he encourages residents to call 311 for such problems, adding the more calls made, the more likely something will be done in a timely manner.