Campbell River doesn’t get a ton of snow compared to many places in Canada, but when it does the public certainly likes to chime in about how the city deals with its removal.
So at Monday night’s all-candidates forum, the Mirror gave the candidates in the upcoming civic election a chance to chime in on it as well.
Charlie Cornfield says that snow removal is a tricky thing to budget for, considering the wildly-variable winter seasons we see here, but he thinks the city does a pretty good job, all things considered.
“We used to have a lot more snow removal equipment, but at the request of the taxpayers association, that was reduced,” Cornfield says. “We now have what I think is a good snow removal – or at least snow management – system.
“It prioritizes bus routes, the hospital, ambulance, fire, police and steep hills. Generally, that system works extremely well and it’s one that we can afford,” adding that during extreme snowfall events where the city’s system can’t keep up, we need to look after each other and help each other out as “good neighbours.”
Kermit Dahl agrees the city does a lot with very little, but says he’d still like to see some changes to a few things.
“I think if we look at the average snowfall we get each year over the last 20 years, they do an amazing job considering how much equipment they’ve got,” but adds, “there are certainly improvements that can be made in terms of technique – some education for some of the plow operators would help. Going backwards around a cul-de-sac and pushing it into the centre is a lot nicer for the people in the cul-de-sac than going around it the proper way and pushing it all into their driveway.”
Colleen Evans says one of the keys is communication with the public.
“People want to know when the plows are coming through,” she says, “so last year we set up a website and a phone number you could call to find that out, and I think that was a great enhancement and I hope we’ll continue that.”
Ron Kerr says he knows the community’s frustration all too well.
“I live on a hill and during that extreme snowfall we had, it took me three days to get out. Being a city councilor didn’t help,” he says, echoing earlier candidates calls for people to help each other out. “It’s certainly challenging for shut-ins and seniors and families with children to get about. Neighbours need to work together. In my neighbourhood we had a guy with a little excavator. I think he did a little bit of damage,” he adds with a laugh, “but he did move some snow around.”
Marlene Wright says that in being as conservative as they can in creating the snow removal budget, “to be responsible with the tax payers’ money,” it sometimes works against the city during years where more snowfall occurs, “but I do feel that the staff does the best they can with what’s available.”
Michele Babchuk says that extreme snowfall events are going to become more frequent as the planet warms, “and I believe that we do a good job with our streets … but I feel like after it’s snowed and then rained and then iced up and then snowed, and the plows come along and push that concrete ice up onto the sidewalk and into your driveway, it’s almost impossible for anyone to get it out of there,” adding that in some places, it’s actually illegal to plow snow into a driveway. Instead, pushing snow into the middle of the street “actually creates a safety barrier between cars coming down hills, believe it or not.”
Allan Buxton says new ideas are needed.
“What if you could come down to City Hall and we gave out bright neon placards to put in your window that says, ‘I can’t shovel my driveway,’ so when the city plow comes along and sees the placard, they take 20 or 25 seconds to back up and plow your driveway out? It’s not going to be for everybody, but it’s an idea. I’m all about ideas and I’m all about listening, so if anyone has ideas, I’ll listen.”
You can watch Monday night’s forum in its entirety on the Mirror’s Facebook page at facebook.com/campbellrivermirror