Kate Grafton is upset at the lack of action by the Greater Victoria Housing Society to clear the snow at Colwood Lodge on Belmont Road, leaving many of the residents stuck inside. (Provided by Kate Grafton)

‘We feel forgotten’: Colwood residents stranded inside seniors apartment due to uncleared snow

All of the 60 residents at Colwood Lodge are living with some sort of disability

A number of residents living with disabilities are stranded inside a Colwood apartment complex after the dump of heavy snow, which has not been cleared since Monday according to one resident.

On Wednesday night, Kate Grafton, who lives in the Colwood Lodge at 85 Belmont Rd., said she feels forgotten and hadn’t been able to leave to get groceries due to the unclear walkways.

According to Grafton, all 45 residents living in the seniors building run by the Greater Victoria Housing Society live with some sort of disability and at least three-quarters of the residents have mobility issues and need home support from care aides at least two to three times per day.

Kay Melliship, executive director with the GVHS, said that’s not true, adding that although she can’t talk about specific tenants says the home is for seniors who are independent and only knows of one tenant with a service dog and a wheelchair.

READ ALSO: Snowstorm 2020: The latest on weather, travel and schools

Grafton says while the path was cleared slightly on Wednesday, they did a “terrible job” in her opinion by removing only enough snow for an abled body person to get around. (Provided by Kate Grafton)

On Wednesday, Grafton’s care aide — who helps her get up in the morning and make breakfast — had to cancel due to the snowy conditions. Luckily, Grafton is able to manage on her own but she worries about the other residents.

“Even if the home support workers are able to get here, some won’t walk into the building unless they can park out front,” she said. “Some people weren’t able to take their meds [today], some people weren’t able to get dressed.”

Melliship called the snow an “extraordinary circumstance” and said tenants need to either lean on their neighbours or plan ahead.

“I can appreciate [some tenants] might have needed food or not have been prepared, in spite of all the warnings we got but tenants need to prepare themselves.”

Grafton has lived in the lodge for five years, three of which have gotten snow. She says she’s never seen the parking lot plowed and called in a favour to get someone out to plow the lot during the 2019 snowstorm.

READ ALSO: Public asked to call 811 in non-medical emergencies due to ‘significant’ increase in emergency calls

A frying pan has been left outside Colwood Lodge by one resident for others to use if they need to clear the snow. (Provided by Kate Grafton)

With no shovels on site, one resident left a cast iron frying pan outside for people to try their best at clearing the walkways.

“[We] have a right to know that we can exit our building if there was a fire or if somebody needed an emergency vehicle,” said Grafton.

On Wednesday, “unidentified individuals” shoveled some of the snow but in Grafton’s opinion they “did a terrible job,” leaving about half of the walkway covered in snow and only making it wide enough for an able-bodied person to manoeuvre.

Grafton said the backyard is also an issue, with the path to the yard covered in so much snow she can’t get outside to watch her service dog, Kyla, when she needs to go out. Currently, only Kyla is able to get into the backyard.

“We’re here, we deserve access like everyone else,” she said. “We feel forgotten.”

Melliship said she reached out to the people who cleared the walks at Colwood Lodge on Wednesday and was told they were mindful of the needs of some tenants in wheelchairs and the service dog but did the best they could.

“I think we did a really good job. They did a good job and I’m grateful because we had very limited staff … so we did the best we could with the resources we had,” says Melliship. “Had the circumstances been worse, we wouldn’t have come.”

EDITORS NOTE: An earlier of this version contained an error about the number of residents living in Colwood Lodge. The story has been updated to reflect the correct number.

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