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An APS button fixed to a pole at a crosswalk in Ottawa, with Parliament buildings in the background. The pole is surrounded by a large snowbank that reaches almost as high as the button and extends approximately a metre outward, making it impossible for pedestrians to reach it.

Say “SnoWay” to improper snow removal this winter

By: Gabriella Rabaa

Winter weather can make travel conditions treacherous for pedestrians, especially children, seniors, people using strollers, and people with disabilities. When municipalities, businesses, snow removal contractors, and homeowners fail to clear snow and ice, people who are blind or have low vision cannot safely navigate their communities and access public transit, undermining their independence and ability to carry out their daily activities.

That’s why this winter, CNIB launched a new advocacy campaign under the Safe and Accessible Journeys commitment of our strategic plan, The Way Forward. The “SnoWay” campaign will run until March 31, 2024, to raise awareness about the environmental barriers caused by snow and ice on sidewalks and walkways and to educate municipalities and the public about their responsibilities to remove barriers caused by winter weather.

Advocate for accessible snow removal in your community!
Snow removal is a mobility issue, an accessibility issue, and a human rights issue. Public paths of travel and transit stops are critical infrastructure for pedestrians that must be safe and accessible to everyone all year round.

As part of the SnoWay campaign, CNIB is calling on municipalities to review their snow clearing policies and practices, including budgetary decisions. We’re also asking community members to get involved by talking to your networks and local businesses about their responsibilities to clear snow and ice from public paths of travel. You can also file a complaint with your municipality if you encounter a public walkway or transit stop that hasn’t been properly cleared within 48 hours. 

You can also participate in our #SnoWay photo contest by sharing a photo highlighting a poorly cleared sidewalk, crosswalk, or transit stop. 

Submissions can be emailed to advocacy@cnib.ca or shared on social media, tagging CNIB and using the hashtag #SnoWay. Each submission should include an image description with details about the snow barrier and location (e.g., the bus stop at the intersection of Bank Street and Queen Street in Ottawa). All submissions will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!