Snow removal program helped those who needed it most this winter

“When you can’t shovel snow off your sidewalk due to illness and see people having to use it when it isn’t cleared of snow, it can be a little frustrating,” says Amber Ziegler, a resident of Eastwood.

Cory Phelan, foreground, and Steven Shewfelt of Hire Good’s snow removal service clear the sidewalk in front of the property of an Eastwood resident who received free snow removal this winter. | Kate Wilson

She’s on medication for asthma and her daughter is in a wheelchair. Last year she tried her best, but found she had trouble breathing after shovelling snow. So a new City grant offered to community leagues this past winter to help citizens with their snow removal has been a blessing. Through the program, Ziegler’s wheelchair ramp and the path leading to her car has been kept clear. Her street frontage sidewalk is no longer packed with ice and snow. 

“They did a fantastic job,” Ziegler says of the two-man crew who cleared her walkway and sidewalk through the end of March. 

The $1,500 grant is used in whatever way each community league feels best. Four leagues in the Rat Creek Press area participated this winter, each offering free snow removal to those who need it the most, such as seniors and people with illness or disability.

Parkdale-Cromdale gave employment to a local contractor and also partnered with the North Edmonton Seniors Association through their home support program. 

A new City grant offered to community leagues helped with snow removal for residents who needed the assistance. | Kate Wilson

“We saw it as a good opportunity to support local businesses and offer some much-needed support to our community,” says Kevin Wong, community league president.

Mary Hajar, a 74-year-old resident of Parkdale who recently lost her husband, was shovelling on her own. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and sees neighbouring seniors shoveling snow. The program makes sense, considering the City expects every resident to take care of their piece of sidewalk frontage.

“The program has helped me tremendously,” she said. “I think it should be part of the community. Most of us are seniors on this block.” 

Elmwood Park and Eastwood also organized free snow removal. Eastwood Community League contracted snow clearing from the Hire Good program at Boyle Street Community Services.

Eastwood resident Emma Gotowik, 84 years old, got the service thanks to a phone call made by her daughter, Inga Savard.

“My brother, who lives with my mom, has health problems. I help out when I can, but some of these back-breaking things, I can’t do them anymore,” explains Savard. “It has been a godsend.”

Cory Phelan, right, and Steven Shewfelt of Hire Good’s snow removal in front of a property in Eastwood. They provided free snow removal for about 22 Eastwood residents this past winter. | Kate Wilson

Allan and Sheila Cowdell, also seniors in Eastwood, were thrilled when the crew not only cleared snow but also took their garbage to the garage door.

“We would love to see it continue, we’re on very limited income,” says Sheila. “As soon as I read the flier to my husband, he said we need to call about it.”

As many as 60 people in the four communities have benefited from the program this past winter. 

At Alberta Avenue, Margaret Larsen, board director, says they weren’t sure what the response would be from seniors, single-parent households, and people with mobility limitations.

“The people who applied were very much in need of the service. One person told me he had already spent $500 this winter,” says Larsen. “I hope the City will continue offering the grant.”

The City will assess the success of the grant and determine if it will continue next year. | Kate Wilson

Andrew Jabs, program manager with Capital City Clean Up which is overseeing the program, says the City will be assessing its success for possible continuation.

Featured Image: Cory Phelan of Hire Good works on the streetfront sidewalk of an Eastwood resident who received free snow removal this winter. | Kate Wilson