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Windrow across driveway worries woman with heart condition

Vivian Gowrie is on the waitlist for a double bypass and spent Sunday night concerned ambulance would not be able to reach her if she needed one thanks to snow pile left by city at end of her driveway
Vivian Gowrie outside her 1100-block McGowan Drive home on Monday after the city cleared a windrow of snow from the mouth of her driveway.

When Vivian Gowrie found a nearly metre-high windrow of snow and ice blocking the end of her driveway on Sunday afternoon, she began to fear for her life.

The 62-year-old resident of 1100-block McGowan Drive in the Heritage subdivision is on the waiting list for heart surgery and worries any moment could be her last.

The pile was left by the city's snow clearing crew as they worked to plow the streets following the heavy snowfall over the weekend and the sight left her concerned that if she had to call for an ambulance, the barrier would prevent emergency personnel from reaching her on time.

"It was putting me in a danger situation, it really was," said Gowrie, who needs a double bypass and a valve replacement.

Gowrie called city hall "five or six times" over the evening and early the next morning but it wasn't until just before 8 a.m. on Monday, and some 16 hours after she first notified the city, that the obstacle was taken away.

"I literally couldn't have called an ambulance and got out. I was stuck," Gowrie said.

Gowrie, who often relies on a walker to get around, said she has had similar problems over the 34 years she's lived in the home. 

As recently as two weeks before, another windrow left by the city forced a HandyDART driver to dig it out enough to lower the bus's ramp so she could get onboard. But that one was cleared within a couple hours of Gowrie calling the city.

"A lot of times they don't drop their blade properly there so usually I call them when they're around and ask them to do it and I've had to do it quite a bit but I've never been plowed in like that before," Gowrie said of her predicament over Sunday night.

The sight also left her puzzled as Gowrie said every other driveway in her neighbourhood was clear. 

Disabled and living alone, Gowrie has not shovelled her driveway. Other than a narrow walking path leading from her front door to the street, it was under about a half-metre of snow on Monday. Likewise, a vehicle parked in her driveway that Gowrie never drives also remains buried.

Later the same morning, and after the Citizen had contacted the city, Gowrie said a worker had returned to clear out the mouth of the driveway some more.

City spokesperson Mike Kellett provide the following statement in response to a request for comment: "The City has empathy with residents who may have health and mobility challenges – particularly in the winter months. However, residents are responsible for shoveling and snowplowing their own driveways. The City provides reasonable access to driveways of up to eight metres."