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Nelson business owner frustrated with snow removal struggles

Kirsten Charlebois is frustrated with the snow forced up onto the sidewalk in front of her business by the snowplow that she is left to deal with. - Kirsten Hildebrand photo
Kirsten Charlebois is frustrated with the snow forced up onto the sidewalk in front of her business by the snowplow that she is left to deal with.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

A business owner on Front Street is frustrated with the way streets and sidewalks are being maintained on her stretch of the roadway.

When Kirsten Charlebois returned to work at 606 Front Street the morning of December 4 after being away during the first major snowfall of the year, she discovered a frozen mess impossible to deal with.

Not only was snow covering the sidewalk outside her business Under the Willow Inner Wellness but a plow had also forced chunks of ice up against the building — at least one foot of it being against the window.

“I can’t believe my window wasn’t broken,” said Charlebois. “I am frustrated the plow would go so fast past here that it would force snow up that high.”

The businesswoman made calls to the City and Yellowhead Road and Bridge because Front Street is also considered part of the highway. The City told Charlebois their budget only covers sidewalk clearing on one side of the street and that businesses are responsible for clearing in front of their shop.

“I don’t mind going out and doing a bit of shoveling,” she said. But she explained the chunks of snow were frozen solid and not easy to remove. Charlebois also said she isn’t sure where to put her snow as she’s not allowed to push it onto the street or into neighbouring parking lots.

This is an ongoing problem for businesses along that stretch. Under the Willow and By the Way next door have snow doors installed to keep entryways clear and accessible. Ellison’s Market had a window broken Tuesday because of a rock in the snow being plowed. The storeowner suggested plow speed could have been a contributing factor.

Both By the Way and Under the Willow have clients with mobility issues as Charlebois offers massage therapy. By the Way is a hair salon and owner Linda Rutherglen had a client in a wheel chair that had to stand to find her way inside on December 3.

The business owners would like to see the sidewalks safe and those responsible for plowing taking care with snow deposits.

The City of Nelson confirmed that it is the business owner’s responsibility to clear the sidewalk in front of their shops. Public works manager Karen MacDonald said the city does maintain a walking track “so people can safely get through town” but that doesn’t mean every sidewalk will be plowed.

“It’s whatever makes sense to do — what ever keeps the flow going,” she said. “We cannot possibly do all the streets in town.”

The city does maintain the north sidewalk on Front Street. Jim Dinwoodie, city operations manager confirmed Front Street is plowed by YRB. The highway contractor didn’t return calls from the Nelson Star for comment.

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