News / Halifax

Dozens of residents march in the street to protest icy, inaccessible sidewalks in Halifax

More than 100 protestors took to the streets in Halifax Friday afternoon, demanding safer, more accessible sidewalks.

Waving signs carrying the messages, ‘We demand access in our city’ and ‘Marching in solidarity with those who can’t’, protestors fed up with the city’s icy and snow packed sidewalks, gathered at the Halifax North Memorial Library and marched two blocks down Gottingen to Falkland Street.

“Whose sidewalk? Our sidewalks!” the  crowd yelled from the road to the beat of drums as cars lined up behind the protestors.

But standing on a sidewalk in front of the library minutes before the march began, Debora Banting looked into the crowd of bundled protestors and couldn’t help but notice her daughter, May, was the only one in a wheelchair.

It’s probably because no other wheelchair users could get here, Banting said Friday.

She explained coming to the event the pair were stuck on the other side of the street for some time because the snow was piled too high to find an opening to cross the street.

“Even without the ice, even with regular snow which happens every year, if the curb cuts aren’t clear …  there’s no getting through,” she said Friday

Banting has been advocating for better accessibility for the nearly 20 years she’s lived in the city and says every year winter is challenging, but this season is more treacherous than usual.

Her daughter has been confined to their home due to the deplorable sidewalk conditions, she said.

“May’s only independence really is she can take the low-floor buses on her own, but if she can't get to the bus stop or the bus stop itself isn’t clear so the bus can’t stop, then we can’t trust she can just go out and go anywhere.”

Since Chantel Lemieux broke her ankle at the beginning of the month, she says she’s seen first-hand how dangerous icy uncleared sidewalks are to those living in the city with physical disabilities.

However, she will re-gain her mobility over the next few weeks as her injury heals, unlike seniors and people who use walkers, canes or wheelchairs who must live with limited access everyday.

“It’s not going to be over for them in a few weeks,” she said Friday.

Protest co-organizer Kaleigh Trace said sidewalk conditions have been steadily deteriorating for the past two winters - ever since the city took over sidewalk clearing.

“I don’t believe it’s the weather,” she said Friday. “I think the city can invest more in sidewalk clearing. That’s the real root of the problem.”

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