A Sisyphean pursuit

I have really enjoyed the copious amount of snow we've had so far this winter.  Shovelling is a physical activity that I quite enjoy; it is something that puts me in the holiday spirit.  It also is a good, short-term distraction, from my painting as well as awesome exercise.  When we get a heavy snowfall on one of my days off, I do the entire circuit - sidewalks, pathways, and driveway - at least three or four times.  I also have a neighbour who doesn't like to shovel, so I do my best to keep his portion of the sidewalk cleared, too.

The only real frustration we have is when the municipality comes by and does their street clearing.  Untenable windrows are getting created that result in two things.  First, the piles of snow essentially are left where cars normally park, which means that cars have to park where people normally drive.  Our street - along with many others according to what I see on social media - is reduced to a single lane.  Second, windrows block driveways.

Now, generally speaking, my vehicle (Ford Escape) can traverse most of the windrows they have been creating.  However, my wife's smaller car would get stuck trying to careen through the pile of hard snow.  So, we absolutely need to shovel all of that heavy, ice laden snow in order to access our parking spots.

This exact scenario happened yesterday just as I was coming home for lunch.  Thankfully, the grader had just done his work and the snow was still somewhat loose.  However, if it had sat for a few hours, I would have been forced to chip away at it. As it was, I was able to shovel it away in about 15 minutes of vigorous effort.

I seem to remember that last year, they actually began clearing windrows to allow egress to driveways.  While expensive, it seems like the only solution.  Too many people don't have the time or the physical ability to do this in a timely manner.  In other words, an expensive snow clearing program, intended to solve problems, creates bigger ones.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson once said that creating a snow clearing policy that pleased everyone was a Sisyphean pursuit.  I believe he was right.  We are all going to have an opinion on the subject that aligns with our lifestyle and personal circumstance.  However, I'm wondering if we can all agree on the core reason for having a snow removal policy in the first place.  Is it about safety?  Is it about mobility?  Is it about what happens in the spring when the melt starts?  I have no idea.  All I know, is that seniors and people who have health or mobility issues are significantly disadvantaged, as are many people who work long shifts and have no energy or time to be dealing with clearing out windrows when they get home.

While our streets would still be quite narrow, if they added the extra step of clearing driveways for everyone, I could be quite happy with this snow clearing policy.  However, that's me, with my lifestyle and personal circumstance.  I completely get that other people will feel otherwise.

Meanwhile, our local politicians will continue to push this rock up the hill and watch it roll back down.  The person or persons who solve this one should get a medal.


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