I read Pam Frampton’s Jan. 31 column (“Sidewalks should never be out of season”) concerning the sidewalk situation in St. John’s and wanted to let you know that you don’t need to go as far as Sweden, or even Ottawa, to find a municipality that has its snowclearing act together when compared to St. John’s.
I recently started work in Dartmouth, N.S., and have been utterly shocked at the effectiveness of their sidewalk clearing. There was a considerable snowfall here just recently and before my workday had ended, the sidewalks in my area were completely cleared and salted, as they were in most areas. There have been instances in the past few weeks where snow fell through the night and before I left for work at 6 a.m. the next morning, the sidewalks had already been cleared and salted.
I think there are a few factors which contribute to the superb snowclearing in the Halifax area. First, the big “A” word — amalgamation.
I think there are a few factors which contribute to the superb snowclearing in the Halifax area. First, the big “A” word — amalgamation. The Northeast Avalon communities need to abandon this “us vs. St. John’s” mentality and get on the amalgamation train. How do Newfoundlanders as a whole not understand that when you have a larger group contributing to a single pot it results in more to go around?
The Northeast Avalon is the only region I am aware of in Canada that continuously cries foul when the topic of amalgamation comes up, and they have by far the worst public services when it comes to things like snowclearing and public transportation. Side note: the excellent public transportation around Halifax almost makes me cry when I think about trying to catch a bus in St. John’s.
Second, and again this seems like something only N.L. is vehemently against when compared to the rest of the country, is the use of tolls. Every time you cross either of the bridges into or out of Halifax you have to pay a toll, unless you have a monthly pass. Everyone here completely accepts the tolls because they understand that the tolls help the city collect literally hundreds of thousands of dollars daily to fill the public coffers, allowing them to spend more money on public services. The last time I brought up the topic of tolls in N.L. I almost got into a physical confrontation, with a family member no less.
My final observation concerns the City of St. John’s itself, more specifically, the city planners. How are we the only “semi” large city in Canada that hasn’t figured out that installing sidewalks a few feet from the street curb is the correct way to install sidewalks?! I have no doubt it is hard for St. John’s to plow the sidewalks when the street plows are piling three feet of snow and ice on the sidewalks with every pass of a city street. The street plow puts it on the sidewalk, the sidewalk plow puts it back in the street, and so on, in a vicious cycle. My nine-year-old has been able to identify this construction flaw, but this simple fact has somehow eluded St. John’s planners and managers.
The last municipal election saw the citizens of St. John’s elect new, young councillors in the hopes it would improve the way the city is run. I think we should call on these fresh faces to clean house in the city planning department and attempt to recruit civil engineers with more relevant experience, because the current crop seems a little out of their depth.
I am a born and bred proud Newfoundlander, and always took offence to outsiders claiming we were behind the times in any aspect of life. However, my first experience living outside the province has really opened my eyes on the matter.
St. John’s and Dartmouth, N.S.