Tuesday, January 6, 2009

City Thinking about Snow Now

I was pleased to see one of the older garbage trucks come down our street this morning, with one guy driving and one behind putting the cans onto the truck attachment for dumping and then putting them back on the side of the road. They were working both sides of the street at the same time. That's the technology that was abandoned for the fancy new automatic can-dumpers that can be driven by one person with nobody working the back of them, but apparently the older trucks are still around for emergencies. A few days ago, a workman told me that garbage trucks were out trying to pick up but got stuck in snow.

Lifting the cans is hard work, and the guy handling them looked tired, but I cheered him as they took our trash. It's been a long time. Now, if the recycling truck would just come by....

Meanwhile, City Hall is waking up to the fact that this sort of thing can happen and looking at making some plans. Cope Councillor Ellen Woodsworth called for some creative solutions, which would not be amiss.

It would have been helpful if we'd had some coordination. By the time we got out looking for snow shovels, salt and sand, none was to be had in our local neighbourhood stores. People like me shoveling snow with garden spades would have been happy for a place to borrow a proper snow shovel and maybe someone with a snow blower would rent it out if we knew how to get in touch. It's true our neighbours across the street were generous with their snow shovel, but they were often using it themselves.

In a related story, I heard that the Bus Riders Union is pointing out that there are Translink buses trying to drive in the snow with bald summer tires and drivers are frightened about it. Supposedly nobody makes proper winter tires for the buses?

Here's that release - any aunties or uncles with ideas for the next storm should contact Ellen Woodsworth's office, I guess:

Immediate Release: January 6, 2009

Councilor Woodsworth calls for creative solutions to Vancouver snow

Councilor Woodsworth met with city staff today to explore ways that the city can better deal with snow on Vancouver sidewalks.

According to Woodsworth, "we need to do more to alleviate the hardships faced by seniors, people with disabilities, working people who can't get to work because sidewalks are blocked by snow and ice, transit users, homeless, and all the others who have suffered during the harsh weather. Many have even been housebound."

While this year's winter has been an anomaly - and she acknowledges the work of city staff and residents - Woodsworth believes it's important for Vancouver to have more plans in place.

At the next council meeting, she will ask staff to explore the possibility of working with community centres and/or local non-profit agencies about the possibility of partnering on programs that would allow them to coordinate the dispersal of shovels, salt, etc. to central locations, and mobilize volunteers, or hire staff to clear sidewalks for those with limited mobility during snow emergencies. This could be accomplished by establishing and publicizing a "snow helpline " coordinated through a non-profit or community centre.

She will also be calling for the city to distribute a pamphlet to all residents - in multiple languages - acknowledging what they have endured, explaining existing by-laws and legal liability, the responsibilities of business and residential property owners, and encouraging residents to be good neighbours and remove snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their property in future snow or ice events.

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Media Contact
Rachel Marcuse
COPE Executive Director

Rachel Marcuse
Executive Director
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE)
604-255-0400 (office)
604-312-9057 (cell)
Web: www.cope.bc.ca/donate
Help create a Vancouver for everyone.

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