Snow removal program for Hamilton seniors and those with disabilities on chopping block


Published May 12, 2023 at 4:27 pm

A volunteer-run program that for nearly 20 years has cleared the snow for many Hamilton seniors and others who need help may soon be eliminated.

In a report to City of Hamilton council on May 4, Ontario Works staff that has operated the Snow Angels program since 2005 said the initiative is no longer sustainable in its current form.

Moving forward, staff said in its report that it will look into other snow removal options for low-income seniors and people with disabilities and report back to councillors in August.

“Unfortunately, the volunteer-based model has not been effective and the continued use of volunteers would require large administrative support and the addition of full-time staff,” said Bonnie Elder, director of Ontario Works in Hamilton, of the Snow Angels program.

Since its inception in 2005, the Snow Angels program each winter would match volunteers with low-income seniors and residents with disabilities who needed help clearing snow.

Staff recommending the program be cut have suggested that in its place the City offer $450 subsidies to as many as 144 eligible residents who need help clearing the snow from their property.

Most City councillors were not in favour of that proposal.

In recent years, the number of Snow Angels clients has fluctuated each winter due to both a lack of volunteers and difficulty maintaining matches for various reasons including proximity of volunteers’ homes to clients.

This past winter, 85 Hamilton residents were looking for snow-clearing help via Snow Angels, but there were enough volunteers to match up only 62 of them.

“This has been such a frustrating program with the results that have been less than stellar over the years,” said Ward 6 Councilor Tom Jackson.

The City plans to have a replacement option in place for the 2023-24 winter.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising