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Disabled Denied Sidewalk Snow Removal

A representative for the city’s disabled community may challenge the city for failing to respect the rights of the disabled

Last Updated: 17th November 2009, 10:14am

London politicians shunted aside a request from the disabled yesterday to restore spending to clear snow-packed sidewalks, but mostly gushed about a proposal to forgo even more cash to extend free and overnight on-street parking.

The recommendation by the city’s environment and transportation committee stunned a leading advocate for the disabled, who said afterwards he may have to take legal action.

“The city is weighing convenience more than necessities and basic needs,” said Roger Khouri, who came to the meeting on behalf of an advisory committee that looks after the interests of the city’s disabled.

“It should be the other way around.”

It’s been five years since city hall cut $200,000 from winter sidewalk maintenance. The change means plows don’t go out until there is at least eight centimetres of snow.

The disabled community has lobbied since to restore the funding. City staff say it would cost an extra $400,000 next year to do so.

That was too much for Controller Gord Hume and councillors Paul Hubert, Cheryl Miller and Roger Caranci. Except for one suggestion by Hubert to encourage neighbours to help one another with snow removal, the four were silent on the request.

But the foursome agreed the city should consider forgoing as much as $665,000 in parking ticket fines by extending trial programs that allowed overnight parking during the summer and free two-hour parking on Saturdays and in December in downtown, Richmond Row and the Old East Village.

Miller said overnight parking reduced drunk driving, helped business and enabled family get-togethers, especially where small driveways leave no room for guests.

“It’s about families having the opportunity to have a barbecue get-together,” she said.

Only Controller Gina Barber and Coun. Judy Bryant supported more cash for snow removal.

Barber said safety was a goal of both snow removal and overnight parking.

Caranci rejected that notion: “If we can please separate the two (issues). They’re not even close.”

If council rejects the request for better sidewalk clearing, Khouri said he will consider challenging city hall for failing to meeting accessibility standards and not respecting the rights of the disabled.

Reproduced from