Cape Breton Regional Municipality has started the monumental task of clearing sidewalks after more than 150 centimetres of snow fell over a week ago, forcing many pedestrians to walk on roadways, inches from passing traffic.
"It's pretty treacherous going, for sure," said Sarah Galaise as she walked to her Sydney home on Tuesday.
"I'm as close as I can to the snow bank, and I'm paying attention to every car that drives by, for sure, making sure that they see me."
Sarah Galaise says walking around Sydney is "treacherous going". (Holly Conners/CBC)
Galaise is sympathetic about the job facing public works crews.
"I know there are only so many resources," she said. "It was record-breaking, the snow. So everybody's doing their best."
The municipality recently purchased three new large snow blowers, adding to the two it already had. And it has contracted about seven more, said John Phalen, CBRM Public Works manager, noting the municipality's usual sidewalk clearing equipment isn't up to the task.
About 25 per cent of sidewalks have been cleared so far.
"We have a priority-one sidewalk, which would be the ones in the main areas close to the schools and hospitals, the ones that are in the downtown area ... and then we branch out from there," he said.
Also high on the priority list are the downtown centres. The main sidewalks in Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford and North Sydney have been done.
Of course, with each new snowfall, they have to start at the beginning again. So it may be some time before many of the lower priority sidewalks are cleared, with more snow forecast in the coming days.
Transit users are encouraged to find the nearest driveway or clearing in cases where bus stops are not cleared of snow. (Holly Conners/CBC)
Then there are the bus stops — some 500 of them.
"Getting all those done is going to be a real effort," said Phalen.
In cases where there is no place to stand off the roadway, the municipality is asking people to wait for their bus in the closest driveway or clearing.
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