Are all the snow-clearing complaints really justified?

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
January 19, 2018 - 5:00am
Image Credit: CFJC Today

KAMLOOPS — Reasonable argument and genuine discussion is important to get a complete picture of any controversy. But I am totally disappointed with the tone of the vast number of complainers about this winter’s snow clearing efforts.

I’ve been following the comments for several weeks, and it’s really a dog’s breakfast in terms of criticism. Some of it is constructive, some of it is well-reasoned, some (but not many) comments are in praise of the City, others are not. Some compare their hometown in Dingbat, Saskatchewan, or the End of the World in Resolute Bay, but they don’t make legitimate comparisons, because those kinds of comparisons aren’t fair.

Every city is different. Even comparing Kamloops to Kelowna isn’t fair because Kelowna doesn’t get the snow we get. Can we compare us to Prince George? Nope, because they get a lot more snow than we do.

I’ve done some comparing in various cities among our Broadcast Group, which stretches from Winnipeg to Victoria. At the coast, of course, everything is good except when it snows. And it should not be expected they would have enough equipment to deal with one or two problems a year. But even in cities that get huge amounts of snow, snow removal is often slow and plodding.

So I don’t think we have a lot to complain about here. Some people comment that side roads and cul-de-sacs don’t get plowed. But that’s the same virtually anywhere I’ve checked. Arterials and collectors are first. They need to be done to keep main roads clear for emergency vehicles. Side roads and residential areas are a low priority. People in Calgary tell me they virtually never get their small side roads cleared in the winter, and we know how much snow they get there. Prince Albert, Saskatchewan residents have the same argument. Let’s face it, when we get a big dump of snow, followed by other dumps of snow, it takes forever, because you have to start at scratch with the collectors and arterials as soon as it snows again. I’ve seen people who suggest we should do away with the highway maintenance companies and go back to the Department of Highways, run by the government, for snow removal, as if that would be better on the area highways. Most of them don’t remember that the nickname for the department back in those days was “The Department of Holidays.” Why? Because snow clearing was the same problem then as it is now.

You can argue we should spend more on snow clearing because climate change is upon us. There may be some truth to that. But these same people who suggest we should forego summer field maintenance and put more into snow removal are not thinking straight. We don’t have an inordinate amount of accidents in the City during the winter. And snow clearing crews, once they get a break from the snow, get things cleared up pretty quickly. Many of our streets have been cleared of excess snow now we’ve had a bit of a break in the snowfall. Crews have done a good job. A perfect job? Nope, not really possible. Some streets will get ignored, for a variety of reasons.

Many complain about the windrows, and have all sorts of impractical suggestions to fix the problem, although some of them might bear investigating. But at the end of the day, we aren’t much worse or better than most other towns and cities. If you don’t like the snow, you should move somewhere where it doesn’t come down. But I guarantee you  you’re not going to find any city that has to deal with several snowfalls close together doing any better job than our crews here. Go to the prairies where they don’t clear at all and see how you feel. I think when you return, you’ll have a better appreciation of what we do here. It’s all relative. And at the end of the day, winter is winter, and these are just some of the issues winter brings upon us.