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Snow-removal problems

OPINION: Letters to the Editor week of Jan. 31

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For a town that relies on snow removal, Whistler’s (service) leaves a lot to be desired and it’s not all the fault of plow or equipment operators.

I blame our council to a large degree. I was told all homeowners are supposed to store their snow on their own property. Just about everything but that is happening now.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), under council’s guidance, has allowed monster-size homes to be built and there’s nowhere to put snow because the entire snow allowance is a driveway. Some driveways are so steep they can’t even drive up (or park in) them in the winter so they park on the street, sometimes for days at a time, without being ticketed or towed. These driveways shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place.

Equipment operators pull all the snow out of driveways and leave half of it piled on the road. People do this even if there is room in their yard for snow, equipment operator or not. The muni plow goes down the middle of the road leaving streets as one lane.

Some people throw everything the plow dumps in their driveway into the middle of the road regardless of how frozen it is and leave big piles for cars to hit.

Municipal plows should be pushing the snow back on both sides, especially the even side where cars park, every time they come through in order to maintain two lanes instead of leaving dangerous driving conditions. But if they do that private equipment operators just put it back on the road again.

If the RMOW is going to allow this kind of construction, it should increase the budget to have snow trucked away. And not just once at the end of the season. It should be done regularly, especially in places like Whistler Cay Heights.

Instead, heavy-duty equipment comes around to push snow back as far and high as possible, crushing everything in their path. The RMOW is going to have to repair our fence again after this winter—good thing they know it’s there.

Illegally parked cars make snow removal difficult, not to mention a mess of the street, but there’s virtually no enforcement. If you phone bylaw, nothing happens. Cars can be in the same place for days, sometimes in blind corners.

When they do move, they leave a huge pile of snow you can’t drive over even if the plow clears it, and the plow may not be around for days.

I was told that bylaw prefers to educate, not enforce. The same houses have the same problem year after year, so I have to assume bylaw either doesn't talk to people or it’s not working.

It could be completely different people living there the following winter so it’s the same problem all over again. People park on the street even if there is room in the driveway.

Pedestrians are left to stand on the street in traffic because crosswalk intersections haven’t been cleared. People have to struggle through walls of snow the plow creates just to press a button and give them a safe place to stand.

The crosswalks in Alpine Meadows where students cross the highway were only done recently and the big storm was three weeks ago.If it was done in the interim, I didn’t notice.

Most residential neighbourhoods don’t have sidewalks leaving people to walk in the middle of the road because that’s the only place to walk.

Equipment operators are left looking for places to put snow, so they dump it anywhere, even if that means spreading it back on the road in an even layer, which I’ve seen them do, or dumping it in someone else’s yard. As if no one notices they’re suddenly bogged down in four inches of snow even though it hasn’t snowed.

Some of the things they do contravene bylaws from what I’ve been told. Dumping snow in front of fire hydrants is popular since it gets cleaned out regularly, creating a different kind of hazard if there’s a fire.

All these things combine to make dangerous driving conditions as well as hazards for pedestrians and residents, not to mention generate complaints.

We were nearly hit head-on by a car speeding around a blind corner on our side. I’m pretty sure there’d be a lawsuit if something serious happens because of road conditions. I’d encourage anyone with similar complaints to contact the Mayor’s office.

Erna Gray

Whistler

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