An excursion from my residence in River Park South to the shopping centre at St. Vital via the St. Vital trail, exposed me to walking conditions that gave me concern for students attending public schools in the area.
The path is more snow buried than snow covered and would surely discourage any child from using it to get to school. Expect to see more kids and cars on the streets as a means to get from point A to point B in this neighbourhood.
I try to be reasonable when inconveniences like heavy snowfall hit the city. One city needed the army to cope. (Cue former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman: “You don’t understand it, we have SNOW!!”)
If you live in Manitoba, you have expectations of that go along with winter weather. I assume it is going to take me longer to get to a destination. I assume there are going to be some delays. I assume I will be grumpy because I have to shovel.
The lack of snow removal on the St. Vital walking trail route is another example of the city’s poor performance in delivering winter clearing services. If brought to city council’s attention, I would expect another eloquent opinion, that the city has more important service issues than ensuring the walking trails are open.
A quote from the St. Vital trail website for the route reads, “…used primarily as a commuter route by surrounding neighbourhoods. Expect to see lots of children along the route as it provides safe access to green space and schools.” I won’t speculate on the number of commuters using the trail but it does provide safe, off road walking access to three schools.
I have a certain expectation when I see words like ‘primarily’ used in sentences. A primary route in a city, a primary stop for lunch or a primary place to get your license renewed. To me, they convey a sense of importance and value.
I would think a path that transects a residential neighbourhood, providing a walking path to three schools, would be an important route to keep open so kids don’t use the unplowed streets as an alternate way to get to school.
I tend to shed my reasonable man persona when I hear glib and/or flippant responses from individuals elected to represent my concerns. Telling me I should be grateful for what I have, is not the consolation I am looking for, as I call Manitoba Public Insurance to explain how my car had failed to complete a pirouette at the intersection of Ward Avenue and Dakota Street and is in need of repairs. I expect the next contrite comment from a public official will be, “…there are people in the world who don’t have roads…” and I should be grateful I have them even though they are not plowed.
Maybe there isn’t a problem with snow clearing. Maybe it’s just our expectations of snow clearing. I’m going to speculate that when all the details regarding the process of the Winnipeg’s snow clearing are uncovered, it will be revealed to citizens something was modified. The process modification resulted in a taxpayer’s reasonable expectation of plowed roads, sanded streets and cleared sidewalks not being met.
I can give you one reply used when the garbage pickup was delayed because of the change to curbside containers. “It is the contractor’s fault.” Sorry, the city has already given us that response for snow clearing delays. Expect others.
It has been suggested the problems are a result of too much snow. Taxpayers need to change their expectation when the ability to clear snow exceeds the city’s capacity. Residents need to change their expectations on garbage pickup if access to the boxes is not available because of snow. Drivers need to change their expectations when roads are not plowed. They need to adapt driving skills that more conducive to road ruts and ice rink slippery intersections.
The expectation to have a clear unobstructed line of sight to see vehicles before entering traffic needs to change. To what, I can’t suggest. Seniors need to change their expectations of having clear sidewalks. They need to prepare themselves to beat paths through snow buried sidewalks to pickup mail from the curbside mailboxes that Canada Post indicates they want.
We are of hardy settler stock that came to this land to start with homes of sod. I remember when I had to walk to school four miles up hill both ways. My apologies, I was channeling my deceased grandmother there for a moment.
I have a naive expectation that public officials will be honest and forthcoming when there are problems. Since I don’t use the technique myself, I fail to recognize the finger pointing, blame deflecting and covering your backside when snow hits the fan skills. Maybe it is better to have a naive expectation of public officials than a reasonable expectation, or better yet no expectation at all, and you won’t be disappointed.
Photos by Sean Conway / Thumbnail photo of snowplow by M. LeBlanc