Robert Barron Gazette
A disabled Lake Cowichan woman wants answers from the town after her family was stuck in snow in her vehicle for almost two hours on a snowy day on Feb. 6.
Krista Parker, who can’t walk and is wheelchair bound due to a car accident 25 years ago, said she, her husband and son got stuck after unsuccessfully trying to climb a steep hill on Winter Drive, where the family lives, after a heavy snowfall.
She said she called the Town of Lake Cowichan’s public works number for assistance, but it was after hours so she called the emergency number and eventually contacted a staff member.
Parker said the town’s superintendent of public works did arrive at the scene where the family was stuck after some time, but could do little to help.
“The only vehicle that had came to clear the road was a backhoe, and it took him a good 20 minutes to remove just a small patch of snow and ice off the hill for us,” she said.
“It would have been all right if it were only my husband in the van because then he could have just parked the van and walked home, but I was in the van in my manual wheelchair because I am paralyzed and cannot walk.”
Parker said she received a call from the town’s CAO the following day looking for details around the incident.
“He informed me that someone told him that we had no snow tires on our vehicle, but in fact we do have snow and mud tires,” she said.
“He also said that in a big city they would not help us out. I have lived in a big city and I never had to call for help during snow-removal season because they knew what they were doing and did it right.”
Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest said he “feels bad” on behalf of the town for the unfortunate experience that the family went through.
Forrest said he doesn’t know all the details around the incident, but the town does the best it can with the employees and the equipment it has during inclement weather.
“That’s not always to everyone’s satisfaction because, like all municipalities, we have priority routes that are always done first,” he said.
“The area where this happened is in a fairly new subdivision that’s hilly, but I don’t where Winter Drive is on our priority list. It’s likely she didn’t tell our public works people she was disabled when she first called, but I don’t know all the circumstances.”
But Forrest said it’s unusual for someone who is stuck in the snow to call the local municipality for assistance.
He said most people would first call friends for help, or a tow truck.
“She’s likely not the only one who got stuck in the snow that day,” Forrest said.
“Weather conditions change quickly and we saw that [on Feb. 27] when we had heavy snow in a very short time that caused a number of accidents. While we have a responsibility here, drivers have a responsibility too, to be careful of the conditions they are driving in and try to avoid such incidents.”