Snow Clearances Create Roadblocks and Opportunities

Don’t you think they could do all this later in the day when people weren’t using the streets?

This was the substance of a short discussion I had last week as I piloted my little town-car though the maze of streetus interruptus caused by snow clearing activities. I don’t actually think they could, but I could see her point. It took me three attempts to get my car properly parked.

On my street they peeled off 10 to 15 centimetres of snow while I was on a quick trip to Whitehorse and I needed to engage the four-wheel drive on our truck to get it over the bump and into our driveway.

Downtown the snow was piled even thicker and the stripping resulted in boulevard dividers close to two-metres high on some of the main streets.

Today I had a problem getting to Berton House for my exit interview with author Chris Turner, who is in his last week at the residence. The street had become too narrow to park on and leave room for passing traffic. Fortunately we had the retreat’s driveway ploughed out for the fuel truck a few weeks back.

Turner and his young daughter, Sloane, have been fascinated by our town’s street clearances over the last week and have snapped a number of pictures of the impressive boulevard dividers.

Up by the residence they found that the blocks piled up alongside the street were perfect for snow fort construction and promptly built one under the big tree next to the front door.

Turner wondered if this method of clearing the streets was new and I told him, no, we’ve been doing it this way for years.

He’s an environmental journalist so I merely had to hint at the existence of permafrost about a foot below the street surface for him to realize what a mess of gumbo would be created if we left all of the built-up hardpan to melt.

It costs the City thousands of dollars to break up the icy surface and haul it all away but it would cost much more to rebuild our gravel streets if we didn’t. They’re hard enough to maintain even when they are dry. Fortunately, these obstructions only last a day or two, as the loaders and trucks live up to their names, and they do spare us most of the street-wide lakes that would form if we left all that snow to melt.

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