By Tom Lupton, Director
At the start of each new year we have a fun tradition in my family where we offer up our predictions for the coming year. It’s fun to throw out the most outrageous ones: What will happen with Trump? What’s the future of Brexit? Will they manage to clone a boy who can swim faster than a shark? You know, all the most important questions of the day.
One of my more mundane and basic predictions had to do with the weather. I boldly predicted that we would not see any snow this year, and I was very confident. To be fair, the temperatures were warm, the grass was green, and the sun was shining.
So as I get prepared to miss the third week in a row of my son’s soccer games because of field conditions, the less that is said about the snow the better, but I can’t let this go. I can’t let it go because of how awesome my neighbours are. While I was outside cursing my sore back as I entered my 50th hour of shovelling, I looked across to the road. There, one neighbour was helping the other with his snowblower. Another was helping to push a car out of a ditch and, most impressive of all, the 94 year old across the road was digging a path so his little dogs could navigate the snowmageddon. Then, out of nowhere, presumably wearing a cape, a man from a few blocks over came by with his ATV and spent an hour plowing our road and our driveways. Shawnigan residents are awesome, because without them, so many of us would have been in big trouble.
Two days after the snow stopped falling, the only plowing on my road was done by residents. Other than the main arteries, the roads were terrible. Driveways buried in snow, cars covered, treacherous conditions everywhere. It’s all fine for me, but what about my 94 year old neighbour? What about people with disabilities? How are they supposed to cope? How many of you have tried to navigate a wheelchair through two feet of snow?
The Provincial government has a plan for snow removal for the roads in the province, and they classify them as A,B,C,D, or E in terms of priority. Highways are A, main roads are B and so on. To put this in context, a C level road, which would be the equivalent of Renfrew road, is allowed to be uncleared for up to 7 days. If that’s a C road, then the roads that we generally live on can be kept unplowed for up to 21 days, or even more. Mainroad has been doing a fantastic job, but their priorities are set by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; not by any local government.
Thankfully, the snow tends not to stick around for that long. However, one of the bi-products of climate change is increased storm severity and frequency which means that we can expect more extreme rainfall, snowfall, and windstorms in the future. This stormy season will more and more become the norm, and if we want to make sure we have the services our growing community needs, we need to seriously explore the feasibility of incorporation to take control of our community. I would like to predict we won’t have need of greater services in the future, but clearly I am no Nostradamus.