Flamborough Snow Angels program to continue unchanged

Citywide program will be changed to subsidy model

Although the City of Hamilton’s Snow Angels program will shift to a subsidy model elsewhere in the city, the program will continue unchanged in Flamborough.

Although the City of Hamilton’s Snow Angels program will shift to a subsidy model elsewhere in the city, the program will continue unchanged in Flamborough. – Gary Yokoyama

 Although the City of Hamilton’s Snow Angels program will shift to a subsidy model elsewhere in the city, the program will continue unchanged in Flamborough.

In Flamborough, the program, which matches volunteers with seniors and those with disabilities to clear snow at their homes, is run by Flamborough Connects, and executive director Colleen Stinson said it is well-liked by clients in the community.

“Nothing will change as far as the Flamborough Connects version of the program,” she said. “It has been successful and is successful.”

While the program will continue as is in Flamborough, across the city, council has backed a pivot to a subsidy-based model, which will provide $450 per snow season to 144 residents to pay for private snow clearing. The program will repurpose the existing Snow Angels budget of $111,310 to provide the subsidy, and Flamborough Connects will receive $1,000 to administer the program.

City staff recommended making the change — which was first proposed in May — after nearly 20 years because the program has struggled to find volunteers. Last winter, 62 people — or 73 per cent of applicants — were matched with a Snow Angels volunteer.

In passing the recommendation to move to the subsidy model at the Sept. 27 council meeting, Coun. Tom Jackson said the program “never met full expectations,” adding a large number of potential clients were never matched with a volunteer. He commended staff for being “innovative” with the new program and said he hoped 144 residents would take advantage of the funding — although he suggested the need across the city was much greater than that number.

Erica Brimley, the city’s human service manager of the Ontario Works program — which administers the Snow Angels program outside of Flamborough — said qualifications will not change from the current Snow Angels eligibility — they must be 65 years or older or physically incapable of removing snow, must own and live in their own home, and do not have any other able-bodied person living in their home. They must also meet the financial eligibility threshold of the Statistics Canada low-income measure that was approved by council in 2001.

The low-income measure is based on family size and threshold, after tax. For a family of one, the threshold would be $26,570. She said residents will be issued $450 for the snow season and can use it for the “snow removal services of their choice.”

In 2024, staff will bring back a report to council on how the subsidy program was utilized, broken down by ward and area.

In Flamborough, Stinson said they had nine Snow Angels clients in 2022-23 and inquiries about the program have begun for this winter. Recently, Stinson said she spoke with a Snow Angels client from last year who was going through difficult personal circumstances.

“She said knowing the Snow Angel was coming was a benefit to her and her husband — who was going through a serious health crisis,” Stinson said. “She said it was the most wonderful thing.

“‘I don’t want anyone to think that what your group does isn’t of the utmost importance — I was so happy every time we saw a Snow Angel.’”

Stinson said to hear testimonials like that underscore why they offer the program. She noted while people often think of Waterdown and Flamborough as affluent, there is a “statistically significant” segment of the population living at a low-income level.

“That’s an invisible population for a lot of people and knowing that we are helping to improve their quality of life … is very meaningful.”

Despite the Snow Angels program continuing in Flamborough, city spokesperson Lauren Vastano confirmed any eligible Hamilton resident — including in Flamborough — can apply for the subsidy funds to hire “a company, a neighbour or friend to remove snow” from their sidewalk, front walkway or snow plow windrow. Anyone interested in the subsidy can apply on the city website.

In addition to Flamborough Connects, she said other community-based programs across the city may be able to offer snow removal assistance, including Stoney Creek Seniors Outreach and St. Joseph’s Home Care.

Stinson said while the Flamborough Snow Angels program has some long-running volunteers, more are always welcome.

“We’re always looking for more,” she said, adding being a Snow Angel is a great opportunity for a high school student to complete their 40 hours of volunteer work.

Stinson said generally volunteers shovel between six and eight times per year, when it snows more than three centimetres. They are responsible for shovelling the sidewalk in front of the home, the windrow left by the snow plow and a path to the door.

To volunteer to be a Snow Angel in Flamborough, call Flamborough Connects at 905-689-7880 or email admin@flamboroughconnects.ca.

Contact Us!

163 Dundas Street East Waterdown, Ontario Mailing address: P.O. Box 240, L0R 2H0 admin@flamboroughconnects.ca 905.689.7880 1.800.297.3427

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