Hope is Not High for Snow Shoveling Pilot Project in Cobourg

In City Hall

(Today’s Northumberland file photo)

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Hopes are not high among members of Cobourg’s Public Works, Planning and Development Committee for Adam White’s proposal to set up a pilot project to provide sidewalk snow shoveling for the aged, the disabled and other vulnerable town residents.

Though White, who had been slated to address the committee at its June meeting, had to send his regrets, he provided his proposal to Municipal Clerk Brent Larmer to read at the committee’s June meeting.

White described it as “a community partnership with the likes of the Rotary Club, church groups, community organizations and volunteers.” The town would contribute “logistics and resources” such as salt and snowplows.

Those who volunteer would have to clear criminal checks and waive liability for the town. Those who receive the service will meet certain criteria and be registered.

Councillor Miriam Mutton liked the idea, and seemed to recall a previous similar program called Snow Angels.

Director of Public Works Laurie Wills had heard of Snow Angels, but was unclear when it operated and when it ended. It was a volunteer-co-ordinated service offered in collaboration with the town, but in the end it was not sustainable. It was based on volunteers, she said, and too many times the volunteers did not show up.

Such programs run in some larger municipalities, but involve hired people and municipal equipment.

In Cobourg, Wills said, municipal responsibilities would have to take precedence over sidewalk shoveling for certain individuals.

“Sometimes it takes two days to clear residential roads,” she pointed out. In those circumstances, any such service would be inconsistent and unreliable.

And as it is, Wills continued, the town is stretched to offer the snow-removal services it already offers to set standards.

“Adding anything else would be a risk to the town,” she declared.

“We would have to hire new staff, develop a new program – we can’t do it at this moment without a massive investment,” Mayor Lucas Cleveland agreed.

Councillor Miriam Mutton had wondered if staff might at least investigate the possibility but, with the result being almost a foregone conclusion, Cleveland was reluctant to ask staff to devote time and resources to such an exercise.

Mutton said that the town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee might have some insights on non-profit agencies that might be able to come up with workable ideas. Her motion called for the presentation to be referred to that committee, and their comments (in consultation with town staff) be provided to council.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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