July 3, 2020

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Trapped by windrows, woman says

Hard ice covers route to street, exit from garage

Susan McVarish says her family feels like 'prisoners in our own home.'

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Susan McVarish says her family feels like 'prisoners in our own home.'

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/3/2014 (2286 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SUSAN McVarish is trapped on her East Kildonan property due to windrows of hard-packed ice chunks covering her pathway to the street and another blocking her garage.

The 64-year-old called 311 to ask fo the city's help cutting through the metre-high windrow on the boulevard in front of her Helmsdale Avenue home and the half-metre one in front of her garage in the back lane. She said she'd be calling 911 if she tried to do anything with it herself.

"We feel like prisoners in our own home. I can't get my car out and I can't get to the street without walking to the end of the block," said McVarish, who recently suffered an osteoporosis-related injury. Living with her is her 88-year-old mother who has home-care workers coming three times a day. The workers are having difficulty accessing the property.

"There's pieces so huge, they're so heavy, even the people that come and do our shovelling wouldn't be able to lift it. I have an injury, I can't lift it," McVarish said. "If you just go along the street, it's like that all over the place. It's just crazy. There's a lot of unhappy people around here."

The City of Winnipeg's policy is removal of windrows on private property is the responsibility of the owners. The city will only get involved if a special application has been made with a doctor's note due to medical and financial hardship and there's no one else in the family who can remove it.

Her neighbour, Carlos Raymundo, 55, has his pathway cleared from the sidewalk across the boulevard to the street but it took him three hours and he injured his right arm shovelling it.

"My muscles are just so tight. I couldn't do anymore," Raymundo said. "When they are doing the plowing, they are just pushing it back (on the boulevard) or driveway. They should just scoop it out, empty the bucket and take it away."

He said he would have to go out to shovel the windrow blocking his garage because he has to go to work today. His elderly mother, who needs a wheelchair, was visiting but had to stay the whole weekend since they can't get his truck out of the garage.

Michelle, another neighbour who did not want her last name published, was dropped off at the corner Sunday afternoon with her shopping and had to walk up to her house. Her pathway from the boulevard to the sidewalk is also under the metre-high windrow.

"My driveway (in the back lane) gets blocked all the time. They say they don't clean windrows, but it's not a windrow when it's three feet high," she said.

McVarish said since the plows came through Thursday, she has contacted the city twice but has been told it is the property owner's responsibility.

"They told me it's their policy, but I told them they better rethink their policy. If I had to call 911 for my mom, I don't know how emergency people would get in here," McVarish said, noting her back lane was plowed early Thursday but she still had her front path. "I was making my mom's dinner on Thursday night and I heard the plows go in the front, and I thought, 'oh no.' I ran to the front and when I looked out and saw this, I just wanted to cry."

There is more snow on the way today as Environment Canada is calling for two to four centimetres of it and blowing snow along with winds gusting to 70 km/h. Tonight, the blowing snow is expected to end in the early evening but a wind chill of -26 C is expected.

McVarish said she has made calls to some snow-removal companies to assist with the windrows and hasn't heard back yet but she is worried it will cost hundreds of dollars.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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