I type this letter with a throbbing shoulder, after having slipped and pirouetted onto a rail on Solomon’s Lane in downtown St. John’s.
Having moved back to the province in June, I was aware of the city’s abysmal record of keeping the roads and sidewalks safe for all our citizens, including the elderly and those with mobility issues.
I was not ready for the fact that even major pedestrian laneways and steps in downtown St. John’s are not cleared of snow and ice. The laneway in question is used by many shoppers and workers in the area.
But the day I fell, there was downward sloping ice on every step. I am 51 years old and fairly agile, and yet I fell and hurt myself, despite going slowly and carefully.
The city claims to not have enough money to properly clear sidewalks, yet this year appears to be worse than any other, with the downtown core especially neglected.
Yet the mayor and council want to add more buildings and workers to the downtown core.
There is a big disconnect here, and the savings from sidewalk clearance may be lost from lawsuits from those who fall and seriously hurt themselves.
If this city is to grow and prosper, and attract immigrants and in-migrants from other provinces, they will need to work on keeping the sidewalks cleared, as this is a huge quality-of-life issue.
It is about being an age-friendly city, one that cares about those with mobility issues, and one that is trying to encourage people to walk or run throughout the year.
As it currently stands, from December to April, the good pedestrians of St. John’s are forced to walk in traffic, or if older, become a shut-in.
And for those who have the ability to chose where they live, this might be enough reason to move to a city that cares more about its citizens.