Senior Watch Old Ottawa South (SWOOS)
Committee Meeting November 21, 2018 7pm Firehall
Chair: Barbara Brown
Members: Anna Cuylits, Barbara Brown, Catherine Read, Christine Franklin, Niki Divito
Regrets: Fran Mowbray, Maura Giuliani, Helen Lynn,Tracey Morey, Carina Bleuer
Guests: Bryden Denyes, Richard Slowikowski, Colton Parsons
1. Guests were introduced and welcomed. Bryden Denyes is area manager with the City's Road Services, responsible for winter maintenance for Old Ottawa South (OOS). Richard Slowikowski is board President of the Old Ottawa South Community Association (OSCA). Colton Parson is a new OOS resident and father of a young child.
2. Agenda was approved following agreement that item 4 concerning winter walkability would be addressed first.
3. Winter Walkability. We were very pleased to have Bryden Denyes join us for a discussion of winter walkability in OOS. Discussions began with participants providing Bryden with background context by describing winter walkability issues facing OOS residents, highlighting the implications of dangerous conditions, and citing instances of injuries as a result of falls and that some residents are unable or choosing not to venture out. Key ‘hot spots’ particularly problematic for residents were identified, such as routes to Brewer Pool. As well, issues were raised concerning the area’s various inclines, the condition of bus stops, the slanting grades and conditions of plowed sidewalks, all of which can create difficulties for residents, particularly so for seniors, people with mobility issues, including those requiring walkers and wheelchairs, as well as residents with strollers and young children. One participant mentioned better winter walkability conditions on Carleton University's campus and in other parts of the city in contrast.
Bryden began by giving an overview of the responsibilities and accountabilities of City’s Road Services to maintain the road and sidewalk quality standards as set by City Council back in 2003. He went into detail as to the standards for roads and sidewalks in OOS. For our area sidewalks, Bank Street is categorized as class 2A which requires bare pavement and the application of salt following 5 cm of snow. Other streets are considered class 2B, with snow packed surface conditions to be maintained (by leaving snow removal blade up) following 5cm of snow, with the application of grit (90% mixed with 10% salt), within 12 hours of end of snow. He also indicated that bus stops are to be cleared within 24 hours after snow ends.The City publishes its standards along with other winter maintenance information on its website: https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/transportation-and-parking/road-and-sidewalk-maintenance/winter-maintenance
Bryden shared that he is involved with the Council on Aging's Age-Friendly Pedestrian Safety & Walkability Committee, in support of the City’s Older Adult Plan. He said that he heard our concerns and that these are shared by residents in other parts of the city. He then spoke to his operating context, to provide a safe, reliable transportation network that meets the standards set by Council. He highlighted that the nature of winter maintenance is reactive and he referenced more frequent freeze/thaw cycles and freezing rain in recent years as presenting challenges. As well, there can be issues with residents who are not properly managing the snow on their property, which then creates difficulties for snowplowing of roads and sidewalks. He emphasized that putting snow on the road is not allowed.
Regarding specific concerns, he advised residents to call 311 for winter maintenance issues. He was supportive of Snow Mole audits as they can generate useful data to inform the community, the city and council. He also brought to the group’s attention the placement of 3 grit boxes (costs $400 per box, about $250 per refill) in OOS to improve the safety of sidewalks (corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Bank Street, corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Riverdale, and dead end of Echo Drive, near Avenue Road and Riverdale Avenue).
Participants expressed concerns about the current standards for sidewalks and bus stops, and the need for a review of standards after 15 years. Questions were also raised as to whether the current grit boxes were well-placed and if more grit boxes could be added. A participant noted that this should be considered as part of the Snow Mole audit exercise, with findings to be shared with our councillor and the City. As well, OSCA may want to seek the views of the broader OOS community as to where they would like to have a grit box.
SWOOS expressed its appreciation to Bryden for the thoughtful and comprehensive information shared that will inform OSCA’s efforts moving forward. Participants also spoke of the need to seek the support of our councillor to address winter walkability issues and to educate the community on grit boxes, winter walking tips, personal responsibilities to manage one's own snow, as well as other tips and encouragement to help make OOS more walker-friendly in the winter.
5. Upcoming Senior Watch columns in the OSCAR: December “The Snow Mole Audit” by Peggy Edwards, January “Housing” report on the November 30 Housing Forum by Maura Giuliani. Efforts should be made to coordinate article, photo and caption when submitting to the OSCAR.
6. Next meeting to be held Wednesday, December 19, 2018. (October minutes were not approved and other items on November agenda will be addressed at next meeting.)