Most municipalities make sidewalk snow clearing the responsibility of the adjacent owner or occupant.

BC VIEWS: Vancouver’s ice follies entertain us

Winter of ice and salt shortage takes Vancouver by storm, sparks debate about personal responsibility for snow clearing

Folks around B.C. had one warming experience as they began the new year with cold winter weather.

That was the slapstick comedy of Vancouver, centre of the B.C. media universe, where people swarmed out of their million-dollar homes to scoop up “free” salt and sand offered by harried city officials after the community’s collective failure to clear its sidewalks and driveways.

There were reports of early birds hoarding the precious salt mix, perhaps to sell. While he was in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert coined a term that fits: “iceholes.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson was nowhere to be seen, enjoying a sunny vacation of similar duration to his climate-crusading buddy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A chastened city bureaucrat stood before TV cameras to explain how salt supplies had run out.

Critics posted photos to social media of Vancouver’s famous bike lanes, carefully cleared of snow while sidewalks were left to turn to ice.

Beyond our bumbling biggest city, communities like Chilliwack dealt with far more snow, and local governments received mixed reviews. The further from Vancouver one gets, the more realistic and self-reliant people become about winter.

In Hope, the local council went into the holiday season discussing whether the district should take over sidewalk snow clearing, rather than leave it to property owners as is the standard bylaw approach.

I posted a Hope Standard news report on the deliberations to my Facebook page, and a lively debate ensued.

A few people suggested municipal contractors could be hired to clear sidewalks, while others warned that the shift of liability from individual property owners to the local government would be an expensive mistake.

My contribution was a bit sarcastic: “Forget personal responsibility, neighbour helping neighbour, all those old 20th Century concepts. Let’s just discuss the terms of our surrender to the Nanny State. And who needs exercise anyway? We have free health care.”

But that’s the thing about our urbanizing, aging society. Neighbours don’t take care of neighbours as much as they used to, just as more and more people reach an age of needing help.

One suggestion was that municipalities should only clean sidewalks for the elderly. Great, now all we need is an Inspector of Elderliness for each community, and a database of seniors that will need to be updated quarterly….

I don’t mean to minimize the struggles of people with disabilities and age-related mobility issues. But the fact is they are better off in high-density urban areas, even with interrupted access to services that no one had a generation ago.

The end of el Nino ocean current events like that of 2016 is frequently followed by cold winters. It created an upsurge in “global cooling” speculation, even as media continued to focus on isolated high temperatures at the North Pole while ignoring the intense cold all around it.

University of Toronto geologists Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall wrote a book in 2010 called Canada Rocks – The Geologic Journey. They later concluded that science and media “seemingly stagger from one widely proclaimed crisis to another,” apparently on the assumption that everything since 1940 is human caused.

“The past climate record suggests that for much of the Earth’s surface, future cooling is the norm,” they wrote in 2014. “Without natural climate change, Canada would be buried under ice three km thick; that is the normal state for most of the last 2.5 million years, with 100,000-years-long ice ages alternating with brief, short-lived interglacials such as the present, which is close to its end.”

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

22 teams compete in Sweetheart Curling Bonspiel

From February 9 to 11, the Sparwood Curling Club hosted it’s annual… Continue reading

Political theatre shines light on womens issues

The Vagina Monologues returned to Fernie last weekend for the second time,… Continue reading

Local rink heading to curling provincials

The Mens Masters East-West playdown took place in Sparwood from February 2-4.… Continue reading

Kootenay East MLA reacts to Throne Speech

Tom Shypitka says speech falls short of intended mark.

VIDEO: Traffic-sign abiding Fernie deer caught on tape

A herd of deer in Fernie, B.C. is getting attention online after stopping for a stop sign

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

NDP Health Minister calls to offer woman seat on Interior Health Board

Joyce Beddow-Buckland of Ashcroft was surprised by the call, and accepted the offer.

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

B.C. RCMP officer officially cleared in car wash shooting incident

A report found the Salmon Arm officer fired 14 bullets at the man’s truck

Interest in Canadian Armed Forces remains high

Canada seeks about 5,000 recruits each year for its regular forces of about 68,000

Most Read