Surrounded by napping!

I should be napping with Adam and Lyra and Dayle and Sera, but I am instead awake and writing.

Balcony SnowYou might be aware that Vancouver was hit with a chaotic bout of snowmageddon. It started with a bit of snow, and then (much like a snowball) got rolling into an enormous amount of snow, which eventually turned into rain. The greater Vancouver area is not exactly equipped for snow in these quantities that lasts for this long – plows are few and far between, and we were lucky to see them on main streets. I don’t think they ventured onto side streets at all. This meant that side streets were enormous snowbanks with cars hiding under them for a week straight, and sidewalks were only shovelled if the people who lived beyond them took the time to do so.

Now let’s face it: Vancouver locals don’t know how to drive in snow, and can often be seen walking through the snowfall with their umbrellas over their heads. To be fair, the first snowfall every year back in Ontario was always chaotic on the roads too – people every year had to re-learn how to drive in the stuff, and for the first week or so they drove too fast and there was chaos. On the other hand, that first snowfall back east was always followed up by extensive plowing, salting and sanding of the roads – so people could get around if they needed to. I seem to also remember little plows for sidewalks, although that could be a false memory. Either way, within a day of a foot of snow falling, it would be cleared off the roads and side streets, and cars would be able to get in and out of parking lots and driveways without too much trouble.

So I have to wonder if it’s fair to mock the people of Vancouver as being weak and incompetent (which I’ve seen lots of online and from Easterner transplants here in Vancouver) after this snowpocalypse event. Much like Toronto that year they called in the army to clear snow from the streets (I lived there at the time, and the only reason I got out of my apartment was because Templier came over and shoveled the five foot snowbank from in front of my door for me) the infrastructure simply isn’t here to deal with this kind of weather. Toronto called in the army to put snow onto trucks and take it out of the city because there was just too much to plow, and it would have just piled more snow on top of the cars parked on the side of the streets. And boy howdy were they mocked for it – because they HAD the capability of dealing with snow, just not in that quantity.

Vancouver gets rain in the winter. Lots and lots of rain, nonstop for sixty days straight sometimes. The city doesn’t pay to keep a team of plows on retainer because they usually don’t need it, and that money could be better spent elsewhere (maybe dealing with the homeless problem, or clearing out storm drains for the rain, or something, I don’t know what.) So yeah, the city sucks at snow removal, and when we get the usual quantity of precipitation in snow form instead of rain form, chaos will ensue. On Boxing Day, Adam, Jordy & I had to walk home from the Quay, because the buses were getting stuck in the snow on the hills. We saw two or three accidents in addition to the sliding, stuck buses. We saw a lot of people driving way too fast for the conditions. We saw destruction wreaked by too much wet snow piled on top of things. It was hard to walk on parts of the sidewalk due to extra slippery packed down crud, and on other parts due to slush and sludge from intersections. And that was after days and days of snow that wasn’t getting cleared properly. The conditions we ended up with before the rain started simply wouldn’t happen in a place that was used to getting snow because there are systems in place to keep up with it. Sadly for Vancouver, we just don’t have that. Also sadly for us, there are a lot of bad drivers here. Seriously, slow down people!

It’s warming up now, and they’re telling us to beware of flooding (storm drains are going to take a while to clean out once the snow melts) and roof leaks. Some roofs have collapsed. The alley behind our building is still a pile of slush, but it’s melting away and turning slowly into a river. I imagine it’ll be a torrent at some point – I’ve seen that before, when it looks like there’s a river flowing down the streets and alleys of North Vancouver. It’s been really nice to have snow for Christmas, and it makes me very happy to not have to drive anywhere. Now I’m watching it all melt away and waiting for the rains to return. This should mark the end of snowmaggedon/snowpocalypse for us this year – but who knows? Maybe we’ll get hit with another bout of it before the season is done. It could be fun.

Lyra has now woken up and needs a diaper change.

6 Comments

  • dreamwarrior

    December 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I would love to move up there i hate the snow, and i love the rain!

    how did you end up over there?

  • Jenny Lee Silver

    December 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I love rain too… it helps if you live here!

    We moved out here in fall of 2004 because we just wanted a change from Ontario. It was a good plan – we’ve really enjoyed it here and don’t plan to move back to Ontario any time soon. Originally Adam thought he might get work doing sound design for one of the video game studios, but the contract he was working on fell through, so now he’s working outside the game industry, and I’m in the world of non-profit – far better than the stuff we were doing for work back in Ontario, though. Also, we wanted to go mountain biking on real mountains 😉

  • dreamwarrior

    December 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    I would love to live there, get away from Ontario, one day i might.

  • ashkitty

    December 28, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    That is one thing I am always trying to explain to people who make fun of the panic that happens when the PacNW gets snow; that there is in fact a perfectly valid reason people aren’t good at driving in it and the cities aren’t good at dealing with it.

  • _devin_

    December 30, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Our climate really is changing…

    People like to mock Al Gore but our climate system is starting to be radically altered and this is just one example of many! I’m reading plan B 3.0 right now and there is a whole section on how unprecedented weather climates have yeilded droughts, flooding, and the destruction of grain harvests in multiple recent years. I’m glad you work for Suzuki Foundation because he must surely understand what’s going on now! That’s my rant and I’m sticking to it! hahaha Cheers, Jenny. On the brighter side, go out and make a snow angel with Lyra!

  • mithoviel

    December 31, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Holy cripes that’s a lot of snow. It has been unseasonally warm here. Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you….all work and no play makes Jibby something something.