Snow Causes Chaos on North Shore
This winter, North Vancouver was buried under heavy snowfalls as deep as an adult’s thigh. Personally, I love snow. I enjoy skiing, and wish I was a kid so I could get away with sledding and making snow angels. Unfortunately, the North Shore was inadequately prepared. Given the multitude of dangers and problems this year, attention should be brought to the issue. I can only imagine what will happen next year with the Olympics.
My family was headed home on Christmas Eve, and had to stop for a car stuck in the snow ahead. They were trying to drive a total distance of two blocks on side streets covered in fresh, unplowed snow. Did I mention they were driving on bald all-season tires? All six of us and the other family tried to push the car and get it going again. After a while, we gave up and steered it into the nearest available driveway.
Then again, all-season tires are sometimes unavoidable. Before the snow started, I got in an accident on the Port Mann Bridge. We were stuck paying for a rental car (with no option but all-season tires) for what would be a couple weeks until the repairs could be done. A couple days later, it snowed. The car was unusable, and soon disappeared under the snow drifts on our driveway. We would have loved to return the car and saved some money, but chances were we’d just skid into another accident on the way. For anyone with their own car, a somewhat larger problem was a complete lack of snow tire stock in Canada (or Washington for that matter). This was discovered after a day or two of my uncle frantically searching the phone book, internet, and any local stores. (There was also no stock of shovels or salt. So many people asked that some stored had bold signs out front announcing this shortage.)
On the North Shore, I understand that there are currently two snowploughs. Workers drive them around the clock when necessary, but it is still impossible to keep up to date with all the residential roads. When I turned onto my friend’s road, I could not see any pavement whatsoever: only ice. She explained that because the road had not been immediately cleared, it was too far buried under ice and snow for the district to plough. This road is close to my high school, and usually busy with pedestrians. Eventually, the residents decided to take action themselves, and rented a bobcat to plough their road.
Because only the major roads are ploughed, one accident can cause an entire gridlock. One day, I was returning home from Grouse Mountain during a particularly bad snowfall. There was an accident up ahead on Nancy Greene Way, the main artery leading to the highway and the majority of connecting North Shore roads. My only options were to brave steep, unplowed roads along Montroyal, or to attempt to get through side roads to Edgemont Village. Common sense chose the latter: a terrible mistake. My under carriage scraped through the snow as I attempted to stay in the tire ruts, and there was no where I could go when another car faced me.
Cars parked closer to the main lane and farther from the actual curb as more snow fell and snow banks expanded. In many cases, this left roads as one-way streets with two-way traffic. Sometimes you were driving innocently in your lane and the car next to you swerved in front, suddenly realising their lane was only half the width it was a moment ago (in some cases gone altogether, commonly around turns.)This makes driving even with proper tires a danger. As a result, many people relied on transit. But even when the buses were not stuck in snow, their service was undependable. One time, buses could not reach Grouse Mountain even with clear roads. They could only reach Cleveland Dam because snow piles along the sides made the road to narrow for a bus to pass oncoming cars, let alone another bus.
The problem still didn’t end there; schools opened before they were accessible. Specifically, at Upper Lynn Elementary, parking lots, curb side drop-off, and sidewalks were buried; 500 kids and parents trekked their way down the roads alongside cars.
Action must be taken to change the current systems: perhaps another snow plough, proper snow removal (rather than piling it on the curb), mandatory snow tires, or more workers to clear sidewalks. So far, I have not heard anything regarding these sorts of changes or a larger budget. Besides transportation of any sort being dangerous for locals, the 2010 Olympics are less than a year away. One can only imagine what the consequences will be when Vancouver is being watched worldwide. I can see it now: the California tourists and foreigners in rental cars with all-season tires who have never driven in the snow before trying to get to Cypress on narrow, unplowed roads next to pedestrians and stranded buses.