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Editorial: It's time we took clearing snow seriously

Local governments should take mobility seriously when the snow flies
Snowy Roads 1 web
A homeowner shovels sidewalk on Mathers Ave in West Vancouver, Dec. 31, 2021.

For the second time this winter, the famously balmy Lower Mainland is looking like a scene from a Canadian Christmas card, and another major dump of snow and cold is coming in hot.

It’s a bit of heaven to look at but it is hell to get around in, with sidewalks iced over, transit delays, and “all-season” tires spinning futilely on the slightest hill.

Embarrassingly last week, North Vancouver went without bus service one morning because buses couldn’t get out of their Boundary Road depot.

The Lower Mainland’s local governments rarely if ever enforce their snow clearing bylaws, and egregiously, the District of North Vancouver doesn’t even require residents in single-family homes to shovel and salt their sidewalks. That, of course, needs to change.

No one should ever be trapped in their home because local governments shirked their Canadian responsibility to deal with snow.

It’s time for all Metro Vancouver municipalities to start planning for more disruptive snowstorms in the future. That means investing in plowing capabilities for streets, sidewalks and bike lanes alike, even if the machinery doesn’t get a lot of use every year. It certainly beats having to shut everything down because we refuse to prepare.

At the very least, we should be requiring residents to shovel and salt their walks (and ticketing those who don’t).

Once we learn to deal with the burden of clearing snow and ice, it frees us up to enjoy it – by careening down a local park’s hill on a crazy carpet or pasting a family member with a snowball. That is an image of Canada we much prefer.

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