random thoughts on snowy, rutty roads

Yes, there a road in there somewhereI don’t think I’ve ever seen the roads so bad in the Horse as this winter.

Methinks there’s a primary cause for this: climate change. Although, I’d venture there’s some bad planning involved, too.

When I moved to the Horse almost 15 years ago, I was told that the City had a pretty simple strategy for maintaining roads in the winter: let the snow pack hard, and clear it once  mid-season, then once more in the spring.

That strategy worked back in the day when it was completely freaking frozen in the Horse all winter, with minimal snowfall. The snow would fall, and basic maintenance augmented the natural packing activity of road travel. The roads were flat, solid, and provided reasonable traction.

These days, though, there’s a very different climate in the Horse. We get a lot of snow now and temperatures are variable. That means roads don’t stay packed; they get deeply rutted during warm spells. And because we have so much snow, those ruts are deep. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t grind my Beetle’s undercarriage on some rut in a road somewhere in the Horse.

The ruts are sheer ice, too, and offer very little traction. This creates an insanely dangerous driving environment throughout the city.

And it strikes me that the City used to be very efficient at maintaining the quality of roads. I recall they’d sort of swoop into a neighbourhood late one afternoon with an army of dump trucks and snow ploughs, and the roads would be clear by morning. This season, I’ve noticed huge piles of snow collecting up in the middle of roads all over the Horse. City workers seem to be struggling to catch up with the environment, only ever half finishing the jobs they start.

I don’t think it’s the workers’ fault, though. I get the feeling that City management hasn’t figured out a new strategy for coping with the changed climate up here. It’s as though they keep expecting things to go back to the way they were. So instead of cleaning up the mess that’s on the streets right now, they’re biding their time, hoping to force a square peg of service into a round hole of environment. It’s not gonna happen.

Here in Takhini North some residents got served notices that they’re not clearing their sidewalks to the standards defined in City bylaws. That struck me as funny: the snow on the road surface is currently much higher than the sidewalks around here. Most roadways in Takhini North are little more than rutted trails through a snowy hinterland (check out the picture in this post).

Seems to me the City should be fulfilling their own duties to keep auto paths clear before they go hassling citizens about the sidewalks.