Business interests and city snow clearing

It’s easy to think that the city works for businesses not for residents. When you hear about a single business getting a bike corral removed, BIAs having veto power over city projects or the need to construct a business case for initiatives that would improve the lives of residents, it sure seems like the city prioritizes business interests over anything else (other than council members getting re-elected).

And so we come to snow removal.

I live adjacent to an arterial street (not a road, as the city likes to say, a street). The sidewalks of this is sort of street should be cleared to bare pavement within four hours of 2.5 cm of snowfall. This is according to the city’s service levels. As you all know, on Tuesday December 29, we received 20 cm of snow. It’s fair that the city was a little late in getting to clearing the sidewalks (though they cleared the street twice within 12 hours).

By Wedensday afternoon, nothing had happened. That’s about 36 hours, or 9 times the professed service level. At that point, I decided to notify the city. I didn’t want really want to complain. I know the crews were working hard. At the same time, how can the city know there’s a problem if we don’t report it.

After making the report on December 30, I received a confirmation email stating that my report would likely be looked at on January 6…which, if they suddenly then cleared the snow, would mean missing service levels by a factor of 53.

On Friday January 2, I decided to dig out the bike rack across the street. This was 72 hours after the bulk of the snow storm, meaning the city had missed their service level by a factor of 18.

IMG_2278I spent about an hour digging out part of the sidewalk and bike racks, and I think I did an ok job.

There’s another bike rack behind this one, and behind that, a Bell utility box. I didn’t feel like digging those out.

As I was about halfway through this job, a Bell Canada van drove up. At first, it stopped (illegally, as they tend to do) right by the box, but there was a huge snow bank there, so the driver went and parked in an open spot about three houses down.

No one got out.

The van sat there for about five minutes and then drove away. I was pretty sure I knew what just happened, but I went on with my shovelling and then went inside.

And wouldn’t you know it, within an hour of a Bell Canada employee attempting to access the utility box, a city snowblower came by and cleared the sidewalk. You can argue it’s just a coincidence, but I’m disinclined to believe that.

I am confident the city cleared the sidewalks on my street only when it inconvenienced a business. 

Forget about the octogenarian who needs the sidewalks to do her grocery shopping. Forget the kids who’ll try to walk along the street. Forget the people who just want to live and enjoy their street and neighbourhood. It really appears the city only cared about snow clearing when it became a matter of commerce.

And that’s pretty disgusting.

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