|Bowen Island Journal|
January 02, 2009
The other day I wrote about how the limits of my admiration for the plow drivers had been reached when one sprayed me while I was shovelling out a space for my car. Today, my admiration has been restored, largely because these guys are doing this work in the context of a community that is incessantly bitching about them.
If you read the Bowen Online Forum - and I used to post there, but I don't anymore - there are several threads where people complain about two things: the conditions of the roads (why haven't mine been plowed yet, it's so icy that its impassable) and the communications fro the Municipality. Here are my thoughts on both.
On the road conditions
The weather we have been having is freakish and unseen for 40 years. There is no way to compare this weather to anything people on Bowen can remember. Forty years ago, no doubt the island just shut down and people bravely banded together. What has made this weather tough is the huge amounts of snow we have had followed by days of rain, freezing and thawing. This is how it is in March in most of the rest of the country, where conditions get very icy and dangerous.
Main roads are kept clear and are passable all day when the temperature thaws them, At night, they are icy though and very dangerous, especially for cars, like mine that aren't equipped with snow tires. So bottom line is that I don't drive at night.
On the secondary roads and tertiary roads, things are bad. People are complaining that those roads haven't been plowed. It seems as if every road HAS in fact been plowed at least once, and the hills have been sanded and salted. The problem is that the moment anyone drives on fresh snow, it compacts it and in the cycle of freezing and thawing, that compacted track becomes ice. You can salt to help reduce frost buildup, but ice more than a centimeter or so thick is really hard to get off with a plow.
There are other complications with some roads being very narrow and having cars parked on them because people are snowed out of their driveways. In these cases, there is no way the plow can get through.
So, while its frustrating, I have to admit that I have seen snowplows every days since before Christmas and that these guys are doing their best to get the job done. The weather we are having is not typical for our community and not easy in terms of snow removal.
What you can do
This one is tougher. The municipality has not communicated well during this storm. Part of the reason for that has to do with the fact that it is holiday time, and the staff aren't around as much. Part of it has to do with the fact is that no one is able to or required to update the website. It seems people would like to see the following information:
In fact the best source of news has turned out to be Peter and Toni King, who run the bus company, but they are TOTALLY overwhelmed with people calling and asking about conditions. If you want to call someone, do what firends of mine have been doing - call your friends further down stream from you. I have taken calls from friends in Eaglecliff and Hood Point about road conditions here on seven hills and am happy to do so.
An additional challenge is that everyone wants news provided to them individually. In other words, I want to know specific things right now. It's impossible for a central communications hub to do this. And given that the municipality ISN'T doing any of it, it seems that the best thing to do is take the matters into our own hands.
What you can do
Anyway, there are some things we can do as citizens to get through this strange period of winter weather. If you have more ideas leave them in the comments.