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Executive committee hears community concerns on snow removal, accessible taxi availability

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Several topics were discussed at Regina’s executive committee Wednesday including snow removal policies for city sidewalks and accessible taxi availability.

This was the final executive meeting before next month’s budget deliberations on Dec. 13th.

WINTER ROAD MAINTENANCE

Administration continued their work on its winter road and sidewalk maintenance plan by bringing a supplementary report before committee.

Part of the report suggested additional walkway snow clearing.

Current bylaw requires residents to clear all snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 48 hours of a snowfall.

The policy discussed would be for other walkways in a hope to support “increased pedestrian accessibility” according to the city.

“There’s a high likelihood these areas would also be adjacent to private businesses and property owners,” said City Manager of Roadways and Transportation Chris Warren.

Three options were presented:

• Clear snow from sidewalks in the downtown neighbourhood

• Clear snow from sidewalks adjacent to all transit routes

• Clear snow from sidewalks in higher pedestrian traffic locations

The costs associated with either option have not been added to the 2024 proposed budget.

Residents who spoke to executive committee believe clearing snow near all transit routes should be the minimum.

“It’s very dangerous for people,” said Beverley McDougald.

McDougald told multiple stories of seeing other residents struggling to walk on sidewalks around bus stops in her area.

Including one where a friend of hers, slipped off a ridge and underneath a parked bus.

“She couldn’t make it [over the ridge],” McDougald explained.

Warren says crews usually clear ridges, but it may have been missed in that case.

“They’re doing their best to ensure sidewalks are cleared from curb to curb,” he told executive.

Ward 6 Coun. Andrew Stevens motioned to adopt the third option.

“Ideally, I would like to see a gold-plated standard where the city takes on this responsibility,” he said. “I think residents deserve it.”

The city already clears about 280 kilometers of sidewalks around the city adjacent to parks, city facilities, transit stops; but not frontage locations. This option would add 80 kilometers to that area.

Administration estimated the cost to be $276,000 annually.

“Seems quite expensive,” said Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani.

Steven’s motion was voted down 6 – 2.

The other two options will be debated fully during budget deliberations on Dec. 13th.

The winter road maintenance report also brings forward options for the reserve fund and clearing of snow ridges. Those also will debated during budget.

ACCESSIBILE TAXIS

Another item of note at executive surrounded paratransit and accessible taxi availability.

“It’s important for people with disabilities to have another option than paratransit,” said resident Jamie McKenzie. “But [paratransit] can’t use [taxis] at certain hours.”

During peek times, paratransit says they cannot meet the demand needed by its users. So it contracts trip to taxicabs.

However, just 8 of the 18 accessible licenses have been issued by the city.

Administration’s recommendations for amendments to the Accessible Taxicab Program included the creation of a central dispatch run by the city; added training for operators; and the raising of an accessible rideshare fee of 25 cents, among several other ideas.

Councillors got most hung up about the rideshare fee.

“We’re in tough times,” said Ward 2 Coun. Bob Hawkins. “Does this increase penalize those [who use taxis]?”

“This approach meets what we’re headed towards,” said Director of Community Standards Eric de Waal.

Hawkins motioned to have the fee dropped to 10 cents per trip.

The motion did not make it to a vote due to further questions from committee.

Mayor Sandra Masters felt administration brought a lack of alternative options.

“The problem we need to solve is having more accessible taxis on the road,” Masters said after the meeting.

She felt the need to hire more city staff to work the dispatch was not a viable solution and other options, like an app-based dispatch, could be.

Masters voted to table the recommendations to allow administration to bring back more options to executive committee.

It passed.

City administration will bring back their report in March 2024.

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