While people might like the snow and winter, very few like -30 temperatures or two-foot mounds of snow creeping onto their driveway.
Of course the plows need to get their job done, and I’ll take shovelling a small mound of snow at the edge of my driveway over slipping and sliding to work on icy, unplowed roads any day.
Others, however, don’t have the luxury to make that decision. At Smithers Town Council’s Jan. 14 meeting two residents wrote a very compelling letter urging the Town to consider a solution to the problem of snow removal for the Town’s residents who are elderly, disabled or otherwise physically unable to remove snow from their driveways.
Look, I’m the first to say I think able-bodied individuals who groan and complain about an inconvenient mound of snow on their property should get bigger things to worry about — it’s snow, big deal.
However in the case of someone who is physically unable to remove the obstacle this isn’t a case of someone wanting to complain or simply being lazy. This is an individual whose ability to get out and participate in the community is being impacted.
With that in mind, I fully support this ask.
It fits in perfectly within the context of the Active Transportation Plan council adopted late last year which, among other things, strives to “support residents of all ages and abilities in choosing to travel by foot, bike and all other forms of active mobility to safely and efficiently get to where they need to go.”
Regardless of how you feel about our over-abundance of bike racks (I, for one, am happy I can just assume there will be one within 40 metres of my destination) that plan was a great step forward in terms of making Smithers an even more active transportation-friendly town.
Sure, it costs money, but what doesn’t?
There are so many aspects of life within the Bulkley Valley that are subsidized for the benefit of our communities, BC Transit being one obvious example.
We don’t provide the services because they make the Town or the Province money; rather money is spent on services because they improve the quality of life for the people using them.
So why not snow removal for those who can’t do it themselves?
A number of communities already have systems in place, usually where an individual will pay a small fee to be able to receive a coloured marker they can then place on their property. Respective snow removal services will then remove mounds from any driveways which display such a marker.
It’s easy to dismiss this idea. To talk about how much it will cost the Town, or about how it isn’t fair and if you have to shovel snow Joe Blow three doors down should have to as well (regardless of his debilitating arthritis), but take a second.
What if it was your father, your mother, or your disabled family member?
How would you feel hearing they fell and seriously injured themselves trying to clear snow from their property.
This isn’t about fairness and it isn’t about you vs. someone else.
It’s about doing what we can to make our community safe and accessible for all the people lucky enough to call it home.
I don’t agree with everything town council does. I do agree with their efforts to make Smithers more pedestrian friendly.
Let’s hope they keep that ball rolling.