Nick Dickinson-Wilde was dismayed to find impassable sidewalks nearly four days after Sooke’s most recent snowstorm.
Dickinson-Wilde said sidewalks and entranceways to crosswalks in Sooke were covered in snow, making it difficult and treacherous for people to get around following a heavy Dec. 20 snowfall.
“The first thing I saw when I came to town (on Dec. 24) was an elderly man with a walker at the roundabout struggling to get over a significant snow bump at a crosswalk,” Dickinson-Wilde told district council.
“The lack of pedestrian safety was unacceptable.”
According to a municipal bylaw, sidewalks and footpaths must be cleared within 24 hours after a snowfall.
Dickinson-Wilde said multiple complexities exist in different jurisdictions, such as the B.C. transportation ministry’s responsibility for Highway 14 and Sooke’s mandate to clear local roads.
He suggested any new contract with the district for road maintenance should include proper snow removal for sidewalks and other road infrastructure.
“Ideally, to me, these are all short-term fixes. Long-term, we need to treat sidewalks as a public good.”
Mayor Maja Tait said in years past snow clearing was not always a priority of council.
“If extreme weather events are the new norm, we may need to start building budgets with reserves in certain areas,” she said.
The district budgets $5,000 annually for snow and ice removal and has a reserve fund of $150,000 in case of an emergency.