Okay, okay. I understand. This wasn’t the real residential snow “clearing” job City Hall has promised us all. In our neighbourhood, apparently, that will happen the week of January 20th. (I’ll tell you how I know that in a minute.) No…this was the City of Calgary Roads Department’s famous “flat blading” technique, carried out under cover of darkness the night before last. And I think I know why it happened. My neighbours were getting really cranky about the way the snow had piled up over the last five weeks at the entrance to our crescent and at the beginning of the week, a few of them were threatening to undertake a co-ordinated campaign of calling 3-1-1 over and over again until somebody came out here from the City to clean up the mess. Whether they actually made good on their evil plot, I do not know. But the city dump truck with the blade underneath showed up, made a half-hearted pass around one side of the intersection, down the middle of our road and back out onto the street at the end and, as you can see from the picture, did no discernible good at all!
We’ve had a lot of snow where I live, but not nearly as much as the hammering the northeast has taken. With the roller-coaster, freeze-thaw cycles we’ve been having so far this winter — chinook-snow-freeze-repeat — things have gotten thicker and messier with every cycle. Our quiet street gets just enough traffic to make ruts. Along comes a day or so of nice, mild weather and it’s just enough to soften the ruts. Then along comes another 8-10 centimetres of snow. Then it gets cold and everything freezes in lumps. Then it warms up and we’ve got deeper snow getting soft. Then, more snow. Then more lumps. You get the idea.
This keeps up for five weeks and you end up with a nearly-unnavigable pile of snow at the end of your street, and the sad realization that you live in the only major city in Canada that has no clue how to keep its streets clear of snow in the wintertime.
You might argue, “But what about Vancouver or Victoria?” Well, they don’t have to keep their streets clear, because if it does snow enough to actually accumulate on the streets there, both cities will be paralyzed until noon, by which time it will be raining. Rain dissolves snow — problem solved! You might also argue, “But Dave, think of the cost! It will mean higher taxes!” (This, in a city with a yearly snow removal budget of 18 cents/person/day.) To which I would respond, has anybody calculated the cost of not clearing the streets? In terms of everything from alignments and mechanical repairs to police, fire, and ambulance calls to accidents? I mean, I don’t know either, but I’m just asking…
The planet’s magnetic field reversed this week and dogs and cats began sleeping together, when City Hall promised snow removal for every residential street in Calgary. Amazingly, this would be the first time in history the City had ever actually done that. Within 24 hours, City Hall had backtracked like a rear-wheel-drive pickup truck trying to free itself from the snow, issuing a clarification. Every residential street in Calgary would be assessed, they now said. Some would have the snow removed. Some would be plowed. Some would be subjected to flat blading — this bizarre make-work project in which a dump truck or a sanding truck with a skinny little blade attached to its undercarriage makes a path down the centre of the street, wide enough for one car, shaving off the moguls and filling in the ruts. Like we drive on a ski hill! And others, they now said, would get nothing. And whatever you’re gonna get, including nothing at all, you’ll get within four weeks.
So, remember how I said at the beginning of this rant that our neighbourhood’s real residential snow “clearing” will happen the week of January 20th? (The one pictured above being a faux snow clearing, I presume..) If you click here and demonstrate patience, the City will eventually reveal to you when your neighbourhood will get done – whatever that ends up meaning in your case.
Of course, the forecast says we are in for a week of above-zero daytime highs and it might even be 11 degrees by next week. So maybe by the time they get to you, you’ll have nothing on your street but pavement.
Or maybe we’ll get another 10 centimetres of snow…followed by more frozen lumps..