Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plows, Paths, Banks and Budgets

The snow plows came down my street this afternoon. They arrived like an army, filling the street with heavy machinery. The grader took a pass, scraping the street and leaving a wake of snow as it travelled down the road. Then it backed up and took another try at the street. There were several front end loaders and various other pieces of machinery on the street, all working to scrape the hard packed snow off the street.
I didn't think the street was that bad. I was able to navigate the street with the 2-3 inches of hard packed snow on it. I know we only have so much money in the budget for snow removal in our city, and getting to the cement is not that important as long as the streets are passable. And our street was passable.
But the plows were out, so why look a gift horse in the mouth.
Then I saw the piles of snow along the edges of the street. I saw that they were getting quite high. I saw the path I had been keeping clear. The path that got me from my home to the street. The path had a huge pile of snow chunks damming it closed. And I had to go out.
There was a 4-5 foot barricade piled up at the street side of my path, as well as everyone else's path to the street. When I got to the edge of my path, I stopped. There was no way I was going to try and climb up that pile of snow chunks to make my way to the street. Then I looked down the street to the left, then to the right. Every one of the paths that were clear passages to the street only an hour ago were now dammed up with the hard packed snow from the front street. So, I walked down the sidewalk, to the end of my street. I stepped over the small wave of snow left by the grater, and came back up the street. I made my way past the plows, still busily scraping my street. I made my way to my car, got in, and drove away.
When I returned home with my husband, he let me out at the end of our street so I could walk up the sidewalk and get to my home without having to climb over the huge snow pile that now lined my street.
As I came up to my home, my neighbour poked her head out the door to say hello. She commented on the huge pile of snow chunks that now lined our street. We both were not pleased that there was not a single path left open for any of us to use. And we both commented that it was not going to be easy removing these huge chunks of snow that now blocked our paths.
I have noticed that not a single bucket of snow has been taken away from my street during these snow clearings. So now I am wondering. Who is making the decisions on the logistics of snow clearing this year?
I understand that we have more snow this year than normal. And I understand that it costs money to have the snow removed. But who made the decision to bring 8 snow plows, graders, front end loaders to my street and scrape the snow? And who decided that the snow would remain as snow banks on my street, and not be taken away? All I know is that it will be the citizens of my street, young and old, able bodied and not, who will have to remove those large chunks of hardened snow from our paths to regain access to our street.


  1. The City's snow clearing policy for priority 3 streets decided that your street should be cleared to the pavement.

  2. I think this blog just jumped the shark.

  3. I also wonder about the wisdom of this decision... I've noticed that most of the little streets in the North End are getting this over attention, yet when driving down Salter yesterday there was certainly not two full lanes in either direction!

    My other complaint on this concept is that I take great pride in my boulevard and now that all this dirty sandy snow has been dumped on it, it will be impossible to clean off in the spring which means lots of dust and dulling of the lawnmower blades :(

  4. I also don't really understand the rationale of clearing to the pavement. Perhaps if the city explained it better, we wouldn't be questioning it.

    I was walking home from the bus yesterday and got stuck in the middle of the block because the sidewalk was completely covered. The clearing crews were avoiding eye contact because I was not a happy camper. You can't really give someone the finger wearing a mitt but I tried. I have some problems with arthritis in my feet so it was not easy for me to manouver down the sidewalk.

    To my great surprise and awe, when I came out in the morning to walk to the bus stop, almost all of my neighbours had cleared their walks at least to the road. No mean feat as some of the banks were at least 2 to 21/2 meters high.

    Way to go Northenders! What a hardy bunch!