EDITORIAL: Show some neighbourly kindness during snowy weather

Snow – despite the best efforts of local meteorologists, Environment Canada and everyone who moved here from the Prairies – always takes Vancouver by surprise.

Judging from the number of crashes and close calls we’ve seen since entering this uncomfortable period between rain and slush, we’d like to make one suggestion to drivers intent on braving the roads: all-seasons usually aren’t.

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A recent survey found 68 per cent of B.C. drivers use winter tires. We hope the other 32 per cent are riding bicycles or the bus this week because with high winds threatening to blow salt from the asphalt, there are few things more frightening than white-knuckled motorists praying for traction from three-and-a-half season tires. The West Coast’s wet snow has a tendency to stack, compact, and resist snow plows the same way a winter cough resists vitamin C. If you don’t have to drive, please don’t.

But while we endorse a first-do-no-harm philosophy on the main roads, we support a snow angel approach when it comes to stoops and sidewalks.

It’s true that bylaw officers should issue more fines, or maybe just one, to homeowners who allow their street to resemble Superman’s fortress of solitude. But the truth is, a $100 ticket isn’t an effective incentive for someone who isn’t physically capable of shovelling.

The City of North Vancouver – the smallest of our three municipalities – has 179 kilometres of sidewalk. Even if municipal governments wanted to clear all of them, we wouldn’t trust them to do it.

So, as push comes to shovel this season, please check on your neighbours. Offer a little help or a lot of salt. Snow may be a surprise here. A little neighbourly kindness shouldn’t be.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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