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EDITORIAL – It’s time to take a new look at getting rid of snow windrows

Windrow-removal plow in City of Vaughn, Ont. (Image: YorkRegion.com)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THERE’S GOOD REASON windrows come up after the first snowfall every year — people hate them like crazy.

During the heavy snow a few days ago, I passed a resident busily shovelling the windrow on her driveway put there by a City plow. I admired her industry and pitied her situation, because it was inevitable that a plow would soon come along again and create a brand new windrow.

Clearing windrows with a shovel or snow blower isn’t easy work. For seniors and the handicapped, it’s impossible, so they have to hire somebody or rely on the kindness of neighbours.

Snow clearing, and the speed with which it’s done, is the number one irritant for City taxpayers when it comes to service. Small improvements are made from time to time, but City council — persuaded by its bureaucrats — steadfastly refuses to do anything about windrows.

According to City Hall, “It is the responsibility of homeowners… to clear the windrow at the end of their driveway.”

There are several excuses for this, the most prominent one being cost. The City’s current equipment can’t accommodate the necessary windrow-clearing attachments, and it would be very costly to make changes — or so the mantra goes.

But the City has never asked residents if they’re willing to pay higher taxes to deal with those despised windrows. A couple of winters ago I took an informal poll and found that at least half of residents were willing to pay an extra $40 on their taxes, which, at that time, would have generated revenues almost equaling the entire snow-removal budget.

And, by the way, it far surpassed what they would have had to pay to finance a new performing arts centre — that’s how big an issue this is.

Many cities across the country have heeded the call and now remove windrows during snow-clearing operations, either at the time of plowing or after the fact.

It’s high time Kamloops took the issue seriously.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9224 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – It’s time to take a new look at getting rid of snow windrows

  1. Or come up with a scheme to use small groups of able bodies currently unemployed or low risk offenders to work on windrows removal? Just thinking of better use for the tax dollars they, the authorities, already collect from all of us.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your editorial relating to windrows. The bureaucrats at city hall and thus council just doesn’t get it. If it is the responsibility of a homeowner to clear the windrow at the end of their driveway, the question is “how many times. The city does not have a snow “removal program” but a “snow redistribution program”. As a handicapped citizen I am appalled that the city expects me to be responsible to clear their windrow 2 or 3 times at a cost of $25/time. At a minimum the city should adopt a “snow removal” program instead of blocking citizens in their driveways and miss medical appointments.

  3. Windrows are a major annoyance but the conspicuous lack of sufficient sand to aid with traction especially at busy intersections is a serious safety issue. In my opinion it is an omission on the duty of care from City’s management which is almost criminal, again, IMO.

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