The Calgary City Council's Standing Policy Committee on Land Use, Planning & Transportation on Wednesday voted to recommend that the entire Council hold the line on what has got to be the worst snow removal plan in a major snow-bound urban centre since the Iron Age.
For those of you who have forgotten, the snow removal last winter was so woefully inadequate that the city issued a press release asking residents to stop calling 311 about residential snow removal. (For that matter, it was woefully inadequate the winter BEFORE last, as well.)
Their complete refusal to remove snow from their property, mind you, didn't stop them from issuing threats of fines to citizens who failed to remove snow from their own sidewalks within a couple of days of a snowfall. You lowly citizens have to remove snow, because if you don't, people could get hurt by slipping.
By comparison, of course, it's not humanly possible to get hurt on an icy residential street. You're only in a 1,000-pound vehicle travelling between 9 and 15 metres per second. The kids in that school bus or cross-walk will just have to suck it up and deal with it as you skid into them... after all, we'd have to raise taxes to pay for better snow removal. By far, the better policy position is to cross our fingers and pray for a Chinook that might take 3 to 4 weeks to get here.
Oh, and by the way - you can't plow your own street or alley. We'll give you a ticket for that. And no, we can't give you permission to do it before-hand, no matter HOW many winters you worked snow removal in Winnipeg - you might damage a fire hydrant.
Nation, I'm not worried about plowing into someone on Anderson Road - I'm worried about plowing into them on Woodpark Boulevard, or Bonaventure Drive, or Queensland Road. Residential roads, all. With hills. And crosswalks. And schools. And day-cares.
I can't wiggle my ears and make my car just APPEAR on a plowed major road, and neither can you - I have to drive on these icy, un-plowed residential roads to GET to the major routes. And stop (or TRY to, at any rate) at a traffic light or go through an icy interchange that was last sanded 72 hours ago to get ONTO the major road.
Firstly, I don't accept that it's all or nothing on this issue. I don't believe there's no happy medium between "$22 Million worth of crappy service" and "$100 Million where every street has a plow parked at the end, waiting for the first flake to fall". Hawkesworth seems to suggest there's no middle ground.
"I just don't see that citizens would want it, nor is it necessary."
- Ald. Bob Hawkesworth, on protecting the citizens of Calgary during Calgary's 6 month-long winters
Calgary police responded to over 180 collisions and another 20 injury accidents by 4:00 p.m.
EMS was so busy that they initiated a Red Alert for approximately 5 minutes around 1:00 p.m., and treated injured motorists in over 30 accidents.
"Between nine and 12 we had 40 calls and on a normal Sunday for a four or five hour period, we get one to two calls," said Paul LaPointe from Calgary EMS,"we of course have our normal call volume which we have day to day, so on top of that, we have all these motor vehicle collisions that we had to deal with."
- ctv.ca, Sunday, December 7th, 2008
And even if I DID accept Alderman Bob's "all or nothing" position, we're talking about a difference of $80 Million per year. That's $80 for each Calgarian, to make sure that every possible thing that COULD be done to protect us during the ridiculously long winters we get here, WOULD be done. We'd all save that on auto insurance premiums alone.
Where do I send my cheque?
Attachments: The agenda for the meeting where this was discussed. This asinine recommendation goes to full Council on September 28th. Pay attention to who votes to accept the recommendation, and remember that when you go to the polls next October. Or when you slide into a curb in your neighbourhood because you were driving a reckless 10 km/h on a road still covered in snow and ice 5 days after the snow stopped falling.
At the bottom of the document is the report itself, and a list of 4 attachments (major routes in Saskatoon are cleared within 12 hours of snowfall - Calgary commits to "through-plowing" 90% of them within 48 hours), which I've included below.
Attachment 1: Winter Maintenance Comparison: Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon
Attachment 2: TAC Winter Severity Analysis for Calgary
Attachment 3: City's Ridiculous Push-Poll on Snow and Ice Control
Attachment 4: Chart of Residential Street Enhancement Options