By Steve Hubrecht

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The Columbia Valley was a winter wonderland through much of November and December but several freeze-thaw cycles since have turned light piles of pillowy whiteness into a crusty, melded mush of ice and snow. It’s still winter, just a different stage of it. And it’s still snow, just a different type of it. 

But the conditions lately have left local residents grumbling about snow removal — or lack thereof. 

The topic comes up every winter, especially when temperatures repeatedly dip above and below the freezing point, and this year is no exception. Two local residents spoke to the topic at the first Invermere council meeting of the new year and both raised legitimate points of concern.

“Snow removal is always a pinch for people with mobility challenges,” said Invermere resident, Tanelle Bolt. Bolt uses a wheelchair and started by commending the district for cutting its curbs last year to make them more accessible, but then added that “unfortunately at the moment, every single curb in Invermere is full of ice”.

She sought clarification on where exactly the responsibility for clearing downtown sidewalks of snow and ice lies — is it with the district or with businesses that front onto the sidewalk? She suggested that “in the future, if there is something that could be written about it into a bylaw about snow removal, that may help”.

Invermere resident, Richard Unger, then stood to address council, pointing to the situation on the east side of 7th Avenue (Invermere’s main street) on the block stretching from 13th Street to 14th Street. Snow has been pushed off the main part of the sidewalk, said Unger, but not entirely removed, creating an 18 inch high mound of frozen snow running along much of the block, at the edge of the sidewalk, where it meets the road.

“I watched people helping an elderly person over this mound to get to their vehicle, parked in the road, just on the other side of the mound.” said Unger. He added it was nice of citizens to help out, but really they had no choice except to otherwise let the senior walk all the way to the end of the block to get around the frozen snow barrier, and then walk right in the roadway all the way back to the park vehicle.

He urged the district to do tweak its snow removal practices to avoid such mounds.