Seniors’ snow-clearing needs not being met

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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The problem is some people in positions of power aren’t listening


On CBC Compass, I felt they made light of snowbanks in the parking lots, patios and paths at 501 Queen St. Do privately owned apartment tenants have to shovel parking spaces between and behind their cars, patios or paths? Often seniors’ sites are cleared only because old men, women or their relatives have shovelled for hours.

Most of my life, I have worked toward people having some level of equality. Like other people who toiled for low wages due to lack of education, we are still disadvantaged as seniors. Most of us are grateful we have a nice living space. However, there is a lot of misunderstanding, inequality, rules and regulations that we have great difficulty understanding. It seems some issues are important and other totally ignored by governments in P.E.I.

Who is responsible for snow removal in parking sites, patios, and plowing contracts, processing tenants with high incomes, garbage bins, manholes on the property, lawn cleanup and many other everyday problems? Why do some paths get cleared and others do not?

Patios were so buried in snow seniors could not open their doors after four snowfalls and no shovelling. Lower doorways have never been cleared the four years I have lived here. I do the patio and path but after four storms I cannot move the 4-5 feet of snow.

What are fire department’s regulations and responsibilities regarding snow blocking patio doors in government- owned housing? Do fire regulations require owners to clear snow from fire exits? Are fire regulations different at City Hall, legislature and Coles buildings?

Between 1994 and 1999, at Hunt Court, there was an overwhelming smell of oil and water running through the basement. I phoned senior housing but no one would listen because there was no oil used for heating. I phoned the Department of the Environment and a man actually listened to me. There was an old oil tank underground about 20 feet from the building and the rusty pipes leaked into the basement. Some people in power do not listen.

Getting parking lots, car sites, patios and paths cleared is not a new problem. At most senior housing buildings seniors shovel for hours to get to get cars out for church, stores and appointments. One winter, at Hunt Court, the tie-up with snow was so bad, I phoned Ron MacKinley, the only MLA I knew. A big snowblower was clearing the roads and car sites within the hour.

Do workers with municipal or provincial government have to shovel any part of the parking lots or doorways of the government-owned building? If not, why do seniors, have to be responsible for shovelling government-owned parking sites, patios and doorways? (we pay rent too)  Is there a double standard for the powerfiul and powerless?

Other problems include the garbage bins that will not open in winter and rot in summer. No one seems to be responsible for them. The gray box is often full of broken bags and the outside lint collectors for the dryers full of lint. Will dryers overheat and cause fire when the lint collectors are full? Hire someone to do regular checks of these problems.

A manhole near our cars was clogged and a large pond of water collected. The water attracted black flies and mosquitoes spring and summer. I phoned the City Works but I was told it was on private property. A man used a screwdriver to clear it for the water to run off. As soon as the grass was cut the manhole was plugged again.

There is no smoking in any government buildings but heavy smokers were allowed on A Wing where there were no smokers. I was told “this was their home.” This is my home and 11 other non-smoking tenants’ homes. There is not one wing in this building without smokers. Some of us have serious lung problems and have to suffer the smoke.

I understood government senior housing buildings were for low-income singles and couples. Many poor people are rejected, while higher-income tenants, who could afford apartments elsewhere, are accepted. Some with higher incomes go south every winter. If they can afford to reside in Florida for the winter, what are they doing in senior housing?

I do not blame front-line workers. They follow directions from people who think they know what seniors need. We as seniors know better what we need than those who sit in offices. We need some policy changes. We need regular inspections. We need snowblowers because the present company is not doing the job. We need more frontline workers to manage each building.

If the Confederation Trail can be cleared for miles, surely government can clear car sites, patios and paths.

Commentary By Flora Jean Thompson,

Flora Jean Thompson, Charlottetown, is an advocate for seniors’ housing on P.E.I.

Organizations: City Works

Geographic location: P.E.I.Who, Florida, Charlottetown P.E.I.

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