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  Weekly Feature (January 3, 2009)


More Snow? Tales from Snowbound Vancouver
Brad's Weekly Feature


The scrape of my neighbour’s snow shovel is clearly audible through my windows, a light snow still falls and the city snow plow has just arrived at the community centre parking lot across the street. Welcome to Vancouver?

My right shoulder aches and I’ve developed new muscles in my forearms from tossing snow onto an ever higher bank at the bottom of my driveway. Neither of my cars are parked near my house, actually, as it has become a bit like playing the lottery venturing out the half block from my house to the nearest, more-travelled side street. Instead, we park at the community centre, home now to many of my neighbour’s cars.

This year, I put chains on my car for the first time ever in the city. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to attend my sister’s family Christmas dinner. It was like driving a tank, clanking along Kingsway with the occasional passerby gaping at our noisy passing. I’ve developed an unexpected envy for SUV drivers (and other cars with a higher clearance above the middle “ridge” of snow present on every side street).

Last night, I got a call from my daughter who, after waiting more than half an hour for a bus on nearby Main Street, was half frozen and frustrated. Of course, when I made my icy way over to rescue her, three buses appeared! With the Olympics a little over a year away, many of us wonder how Vancouver will cope. Apparently, three weeks of snow blows our yearly removal budget—not a good sign.

Snow changes everything, I’ve decided. The city has adapted, sort of, to this new reality, but having major snowfalls really introduces you to the best and worst of human nature. Yesterday a group of neighbours were out shovelling the intersection near my home. It’s been tricky making the corner lately and their efforts have sure helped. But, at the same time, some neighbours have never once shovelled their walks.

I’ve also been making mental notes of the merchants on nearby Main Street who have and have not shovelled (a bylaw requirement). When I saw the 70 year old lady who owns a local florist shop shovelling before the 10 a.m. deadline, I was pretty sure that the guys running the local chicken wing franchise had little excuse for leaving their sidewalk icy and nearly impassable.

Today, the weather office forecasts a major warming trend in the next 24 hours, but they did the same last weekend and, instead, we got another dump of snow just in time for New Year's. So, cross your fingers and pray for rain, something I thought I’d never say as a resident of Vancouver.

I hope you are all well and haven’t sustained too many bruises or aching muscles in this unprecedented snow. Happy New Year and see you at school!


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