Over the holidays, Kingston finally got a taste of a real Canadian winter for what seems like the first year in a long while. Harvey and I were out of town this year and we arrived home late at night to find the huge dump of snow covering our driveway and the sidewalks surrounding our house. There was no way to get in but to climb over the two-foot tall mounds, get soaked and pull out the shovels, despite the ungodly hour. Them’s the breaks, so I don’t really want to complain. We knew we’d have a driveway to shovel out for sure but I have to admit, we were sort of hoping the sidewalk would have been cleared by then. This was three days after the initial snowfall. It would also have helped if our neighbours had done their part. Very few people on our street did any shoveling at all.
We live downtown on a rather high traffic street for both cars, public transit and pedestrians alike. We have a bus stop mere feet from our house so we were surprised to see that the cute, little sidewalk plow had not yet made a journey past our house. At the same time, I’ve always been amazed by the idea that the city does the sidewalks at all. In my hometown it was every man for himself. However, the city’s website does say they plow the sidewalks and since the precedent had been set in the past, I was disappointed by how long we had to wait to see this actually happen. Harvey and I are super vigilant about shoveling (OK, Harvey is super vigilant about shoveling) so we’re not the types to wait for the city on most occasions, we just weren’t here to do the work while it was still doable. The snow we came home to was piled high, and by that time it was hardened and heavy. If the plow had been by to do a quick once-over, we could have happily finished up the job ourselves.
The plow did finally make its way down our street, eight days after the snow fall. Eight! Again, I think we’re lucky to have it at all, but I don’t really understand why it should take that long. We live on a corner and the sidewalk of our cross street is still piled high, forcing pedestrians, including the elderly and those in wheelchairs, to use the road instead. All of the talk about the snow removal on Twitter and Facebook and other places got us thinking. What if Kingston had a social network to help get the streets cleared faster?
The City of Chicago recently created a website that provides a whole bunch of information regarding snow removal including “Plow Tracker”, which maps out where the plows are currently and when you can expect them in your neighbourhood; “Snow Corps”, which allows those in need of help to connect with good samaritans willing to lend a hand; “Adopt a Sidewalk”, which is a program allowing those same kind folks to take responsibility for a specific block (or blocks) over the course of the winter; as well as a plethora of other handy apps like how to find out where you can park or to see if your car was towed and where you can find it.
The site also includes other great info such as weather updates; sms alerts, which are recorded messages sent right to your phone or email giving you up-to-date info on everything from weather related emergencies to traffic alerts; and a detailed page dedicated to tips for snow removal and what you are responsible for. The City of Kingston website offers some of this information, although I find the Snowplow Lookup to be overly detailed and somewhat confusing. How great would it be to have this information clearly laid out in one handy place and in the palm of your hand? Most importantly, I think the idea of a social network is excellent.
We have been promised a new website soon, so perhaps something like this will find a place in the near future. In the meantime, we would love to hear your snow removal stories. Were you lucky enough to see the plow on your street right away? Perhaps one of your neighbours lent a hand or even did it for you while you were away. We did have one wonderful anonymous person plow the other half of our driveway under the cloak of darkness on New Year’s Eve. Whoever you are, thank you! You made our day!
Thanks to kitby for the photo associated with today’s post.