Now that winter has hit Alberta with a vengeance, how did we all manage?
Local news reports estimated that we had 30 cm (1 foot) of snow between Friday night and Saturday. Of course, high winds caused a lot of drifting, and as I type this, I’m looking at a 5-foot high drift in the driveway. Thankfully, we don’t pull the car up that far, so I don’t have to shovel it. But I did have to shovel around the car, where the snow was only a foot deep. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go out for anythng yesterday, because the morning news tells me that there were many stuck cars. Buses were not running to schedule, many taxis were out of service. The city will continue its plowing efforts, so transportation should be back to normal by tomorrow. But today, the winds continue, and it looks like shovelling will be on the program for today also. Not looking forward to that, since wind chills will be down to -30.
So, Albertans (and other western Canadians), how did you manage?
We’re keeping the house warm with our simmering rage at the way the city of Calgary refuses to actually plow streets so people can drive on them. So what if people can’t actually get into or out of their neighbourhoods? We’ll have a chinook in a week or a month - let Mother Nature take care of it! I think it drives Jim especially crazy since he spent a few years in Kitchener, where every street was cleared within 24 hours of a snowfall.
Other than our continuing frustration with the city, we had to cancel a dinner out on Friday (date night) and a Christmas party Saturday night. We did go for a walk yesterday, but it was a cold, hard one through all the snow drifts. It was better than going crazy with cabin fever, though.
Jim and me both. From my years in Toronto, I can attest that every major street is plowed and salted within 24 hours of a snowfall. By the time 48 hours pass, the residential streets will be plowed and salted too (hey, Toronto is a big city with many streets; it takes time to attend to them all). Why Alberta cities have a reluctance to do the same is beyond me, especially after hearing yesterday’s news reports of road closures and hundreds of car accidents in southern Alberta. I think after this storm, and last year’s similar snowfalls, snow clearance will definitely be on my list of questions to ask the candidates in the next municipal election.
We just got snow, and not in the quantities you folks seem to have got. It’s more “Christmas card” snow than “Holy Mother of God” snow. Also a bit cold, but not too bad.
Good luck with the digging out. Mrs Piper and I have been laid up with various maladies the past week, so when I got the nagging tag from Canada Post about how they really like us to keep our sidewalks clear I just chucked it - I have trouble making it upstairs without triggering a hacking cough, let alone going out in -15 to shovel for an hour.
Fortunately, a family of five came by with shovels today, looking for sidewalks and driveways to shovel. $30, and our drive-way and sidewalks are clear. I can look my postie in the face again.
Friday I had to leave work early anyway, so I got out only a couple hours after it started instead of 6 or 7 and just took it easy. That night I had to go pick up a friend at the train station nearby and almost got stuck there (she wasn’t sure if the bus was running back home to Banff so she spent the night). Saturday was spent digging out, and today? Well I should probably go shovel again, thankfully there’s not a LOT exactly but should clear it off.
Calgarian here. We are in the country hills area and live right next to a double field. So Friday night we were watching all the shannigans and then decided to walk over to help out. Pretty cold what with the wind coming off the feilds. Some cars had tried to go through a couple feet of snow. I shit you not. Feet!. Drifts by the next morning to tops of cars abandoned there!
About 6 or seven of us dug them out along with all the other cars who apparently couldnt see the road was impassable. We were out for hours. Reminds me of being young again when we did it for fun. Global tv was out so you might have seen us.
Something you dont see very often tho, a city bus was stuck and the passengers got off and pushed. hilarious!..
What enrages and stuns and saddens me so much are those five (FIVE, for frack’s sake!) houses in Citadel that burned to the ground on the night of Saturday, because the fire trucks got stuck, and had to wait for city plows (may as well wait for the ice cream truck in December) That is a frikken scandal, IMNSHO. Fire trucks don’t get stuck, they help people who get stuck. Now there’s five families who are lucky to be alive, thanks to an 11 year old girl who has trouble sleeping. The fire started in one, and jumped to four others due to the wind. Two more houses “got away” with only water damage.
In the Montreal suburbs where I grew up, prior to being force-merged into Montreal, all the streets were down to bare asphalt within 12 hours of the snow stopping, and the plow would at least go by every three hours. Snow clearing in Calgary is a consummate disgrace.
On our side, we got off lightly. Only a 14 inch drift on the far half of the driveway, (windward side of the house) although I had to excavate the back deck (leeward side) from under a 3 foot drift to use the gas grill. I spent all of Saturday morning helping the neighbours across the street dig out with my little Crappy tire electric snowblower. While doing this, we pushed three cars out of the side drifts back into the “centre wheel ruts”. It was like a block party with shovels.
Oh, and the blower my inflatable nativity scene ornament got clogged with snow. I hope the motor isn’t burnt out. I have to try to unclog it, hopefully without having to unfasten / untie everything to bring it inside.
Friday was a great day to go to Costco, though, no lineups.
Mostly I just want it to hurry up and get warm. A chinook would be awesome right about now.
We were fine on Friday, but Saturday was problematic as we had to go the airport and then get groceries. We normally drive a Subaru Forester, which would have handled our neighbourhood roads fine, but it got sick on Thursday, so we’re driving this little rental Pontiac Vibe. We got stuck (really good and stuck) a couple times, but neighbours helped push us out, so we made it home. Since we got home, we haven’t even attempted to leave again.
We live in a part of Calgary that gets far more snow than most other parts, so our residential streets are in bad, bad shape, and will continue to be until the next melt, whenever that may be. I am very concerned about getting out of here tomorrow morning, and am really looking forward to getting the Forester back.
The houses that burned on Saturday back on to Stoney Trail, and there’s not much between them and prairie. The wind must have been incredible. Those poor, poor people. Apparently the neighbours tried to dig the firetrucks out and helped with carrying hoses and such.
While the blizzard and unplowed roads were obviously the main problems, I can’t help but wonder if allowing developers to build houses 4 feet apart contributed, too. All of the newer neighbourhoods are like that (mine included), and, from what I understand, it’s hard to keep fires from jumping from house to house when conditions are perfect, let alone in the middle of a blizzard. In fact, there was another house fire in Citadel last year (?) where that very thing happened.
Yeah, Co-op was very quiet on Saturday. It was actually quite pleasant for a change!
I saw that news story, too, and when they mentioned that there is a number to call when an emergency vehicle can’t make it to your emergency because of road conditions, and they’ll send a plow out as a priority, I think I may have yelled a few curses at the television. Hey, instead of a number to call, how about you make it so people can drive on the streets they pay taxes for? We live in a more central area, so our roads are usually at least partially cleared, but I feel for people in the 'burbs every winter who don’t get their streets cleared AT ALL, and if they don’t drive a Forrester, TFB, baby. I was talking with some people at work a couple years ago, and they mentioned asking the city about them hiring a private plow to dig out their neighbourhood, and were told that they couldn’t do that because of legal issues. The general consensus was, what the city doesn’t now won’t hurt them. They won’t clear the streets, and they won’t let us clear the streets. Nice.
I laughed when I heard that one. So a house is burning down, or somebody is in medical distress, or a crime is being committed, and if the responding emergency vehicle gets stuck in the snow, somebody has to call the city so the city can dispatch the nearest plow? That’s rich! Sad, but rich. The emergency vehicle should not be getting stuck in the first place, because the plow has already cleared the road for it.
Yeah, I agree. I also remember the fire you mention (or was it the one in Edmonton?).At the time the fire chief also blamed the vinyl siding being used in the kind of houses that are built 4 feet apart. Iirc, he said that if it’s heated, it melts into a very flammable liquid. I recall the term “solid gasoline” being bandied about. They were trying to get the building code modified because of that, but the developers prevented a minimum spacing regulation from being put in.
Today is my day to be laid up with a cold. My assistant assures me that there is nothing on the calendar today that she cannot reschedule, so I am planning on spending the day by the fire with Buckley’s Mixture, Advil Cold and Sinus, and tea.
Anyway, news junkie that I am, I’ve got the 24-hour CTV News on, and they were showing front-end loaders trying to clear snow from Hamptons Boulevard, in NW Calgary. News film showed cars buried under six-foot snowdrifts, and angry locals slamming the city–seems a snow fence (which program the city discontinued a few years ago) would have prevented this mess. Of course, there were many references to the stuck fire trucks in Citadel too. But what was revealing was the extent to which the street and the cars were buried–there was no way anything other than heavy equipment could get through. Forget dispatching a plow to help a fire truck; that truck would need a front-end loader to make any headway.
Calgary (the city, not the residents) should hang its head in shame. For a place that claims to be one of the big players in terms of Canadian cities, its snow clearing policies compared to other cities show that it is nothing but a minor-league wannabe.
+1 Small town Fort McMurray, snowed plowed. Small town Erickson in Manitoba, plowed. Larger city of Winnipeg, not much going for it money wise, plowed. A city of a million, Calgary, not plowed. Oil and gas central, lots of taxes etc. Sigh. But we do have money to build a freaking designer bridge so that the 2 bikers can get across the river.
And it’s not like it’s a new complaint, either. It’s been a problem here long enough for there to be a long-standing joke about someone seeing what they thought was a mirage - a snow plow on a Calgary street! I don’t know why we ever expect it to change, though - this is a city that learns that people are using a road to drive on, and immediately takes actions to correct that. We’re just lucky they don’t truck snow into the city and dump it on the roads.
A small part of me wants to crack on you for dissing my beloved home town, but the fact of the matter is that you are exactly right. City infrastructure here is an unmitigated disaster and has been for decades. From the shitty design of the roadways, to deliberately ruining traffic flow in some areas to placate the odd whiner, to the absolute refusal to recognize that we live in a climate that gets snow every now and then and the roads need to be cleared so motorists can actually get from place-to-place, Calgary’s approach is reactive, penny-pinching, and irrational. Our do-nothing municipal government is content to continually tow the party line that nothing can be done and for some reason, this seems to placate most of the voting public.
We have been on the recieving end of three hit-and-runs in the last six years, two of which were directly attributable to poor road conditions (slippery conditions may have also been a factor in the third), all of which happened while our car was parked in front of our house. Clean the side streets properly (or even half-assedly) and we don’t have those insurance claims messing up our premiums. Clean the roads properly and everyone gets to work, making the whole city more productive. Yeah, I know, that’s just me talking crazy talk…