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LETTER: Time for St. John's to share the snow-clearing pain

A City of St. John’s side walk snow-blower does its rounds Wednesday morning.
A City of St. John’s side walk snow-blower does its rounds Wednesday morning. - Joe Gibbons

I’m writing about the annual, popular and controversial topic of the season, a tiresome but solvable problem, the state of snow clearing and removal, or not, in St. John’s.

There are pics all over social media and on local media websites showing the lack of snow clearing by the City of St. John’s in many areas of the city, those that are high-people or car-traffic areas, and captured hours and days after a significant blizzard and snow dump.

Winters like this one, which your Saltwire meteorologist says will be another tough one for St. John’s, are not unknown in our city. Yet we all seem to get frustrated, annoyed even injured annually by the poor quality snow clearing and removal provided by the city to local residents.

And municipal politicians, like our Mayor Danny Breen, ask for our patience and for us to help clear local hydrants (a request that needs to be better managed and co-ordinated by the city), along with our driveways, front-walks and even, for some, the sidewalks. Oddly, the mayor blamed the weather for snow-clearing challenges during the day of the blizzard, saying that the city would get Priority 1 areas cleared and due to the weather they would have to be pulled back from Priority 2 areas and re-do the Priority 1 areas.

Well, welcome to St. John’s Mayor Breen, where the winds are strong and high and our university has previously told us, via a climate-change impact study on the province, it will get windier as a result of climate change, and we can expect more precipitation.

So, here’s the bottom line, as I see it, at least — we do not have enough by way of cash or human resources to do the type of snow clearing and removal that the city needs, given its weather, and what the people obviously want, need and expect. How can our mayor help with this long-standing reality of not having enough resources to cope with St. John’s winter weather and impact?

Well, there are at least five significant commuter communities that border St. John’s whose residents in this year’s budget did not have a mill rate increase (unlike St. John’s and except for Mount Pearl) who come here daily to work, shop, go to school and use all of St. John’s infrastructure and local services, not available in their communities, with no financial cost to them.

Why? Do those folks not drive daily on our roads, walk on our sidewalks, use our parks other amenities and services? Of course they do.

It is time for our mayor to lead and to go to his counterparts in all the obvious commuter communities that immediately border our city and get the additional resources needed to make St. John’s a more pedestrian- and car-friendly city in the winter (even for the commuters) and, in fact, all year long.

Not doing so is an abdication of responsibility by our municipal politicians to serve the residents of the city they were elected to serve and to do better for us and not stick to the ever-ineffective status quo approach and while asking for patience, which has rightly grown thinner than thin, from the population.

Geoff Chaulk
St. John’s


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