I write this post on day 8 or 9 after the snowstorm and there is still 30% of the snow clean up left to be done. I am wondering most of all why it was that the powers that be in charge of snow removal in Montreal thought that it would be okay to leave the sidewalks unplowed and large snow banks that narrowed streets making it impossible to get off the street for an elderly person, handicapped person, or child once on the street. Once on the street in traffic there was no escape from danger from traffic for any pedestrian and so if a car or truck got out of control on the slippery streets you were bound to be hit. As I watched over several days I saw people trying to climb snow banks to get on busses with varying degrees of success, but one thing was clear and this was the danger. Not only the danger of falling under the bus, or falling back into on-coming traffic, but the danger of heart attacks and broken bones and other injuries related to slipping and falling. We knew that the snow was coming and the estimates I heard off the weather network which obviously the people responsible for snow removal did not, was that up to 45 cm. I feel that whomever does the planning of snow removal did not give sufficient thought to the implication of that much snow falling in that short of time and so did not give the proper priority to the debilitating effects and as a result did not allow for a safe way for pedestrians to traverse during the snow removal process, putting all pedestrians in unnecessary danger, stress and health risk. At the very least the decision to not plow the sidewalks was negligent, but to allow this situation to go on for over 8 days shows a lack of caring for the pedestrians of the city that comes close to criminal.
After a record dumping of snow in one day of 45 cm of snow we are still feeling the effects all over the island of Montreal and I for one would like to know who the fool is who does the planning and preparation for snow removal. Montreal city officials have made it almost impossible to park with their zoning of streets by section requiring certain areas to need special permits, narrowing streets and only allowing parking on one side of the street at a time, making it impossible to park unless you have off the road parking. This is Montreal a city used to snow and now we are being told that record snowfalls of this kind will take up to 10 days to clean up. Okay if they say so, but what surprised me was the forcing of people to walk on those slippery, narrow streets, because none of the sidewalks anywhere got cleaned for over 5 days and some areas having still no sidewalks today.
Be patient city officials say, we got dumped on and we are moving as quickly as possible, please obey the parking signs, because every time a car has to be towed during the cleanup operation we lose ten minutes of progress. Funny thing is they could not tell the citizens of Montreal where to park, because the city was still giving out tickets for parking illegally. It is only the beginning of winter and although it is true that it was a record snowfall for one day this is Montreal in 2013 and we knew the snowstorm was coming. Montreal has had back to back days of snow that have dumped close to this amount of snow and as it got cleaned up dumped some more and snow teams got it up, because this is not New York City and we are used to getting snow. It would seem that this is yet another example of bad municipal planning, or perhaps bad judgement on the part of the municipal powers that handle this sort of thing. What I feel is that while we are being ripped off by city officials and the price for everything is going up our quality of service is going down.
The snow piled up in huge banks and cars parked beside them made the streets in most cases on side streets one lane and not even a straight lane but a twisting lane that snaked around parked cars, but what was so dangerous was that not a sidewalk had been plowed forcing pedestrians into the slippery streets to compete with cars for that snaking lane. The only saving grace was that on the side streets traffic was slow going and the danger minimized, but you still had to wonder about the genius in city hall, or public works who decided that cleaning the streets for cars to get around was more important than giving pedestrians a safe place to walk. This madness on the side streets was bad enough, but when it spilled onto the main streets and pedestrians were forced to put their lives in danger because they were forced to walk on the street with sliding faster moving traffic often having to climb through snow banks to get on busses tempers started to rise.
The elderly, the handicapped and our children were being put in danger by the city every time they had to go out. There was no emergency shut down of schools, or the city so people who attended school were expected to do so; people who worked were expected to do so and people who had appointments were expected to keep them and so men, women and children were forced into the streets in traffic, forced to try to climb very high snow banks to get to and onto busses while the city scrambled and continued to act like this snowstorm was a freak accident that they did not have the time to prepare for and did not know was coming. Then came the cherry on the cake. With less than 50% of the streets cleaned and virtually none of the sidewalks plowed the snow crews went on a 36 hour break. Not 50% of them at a time but all of them leaving the citizens of Montreal to do the best they could for yet another 36 hours, with the promise of a minimum of 5 more days once the crews got back before the streets were totally cleared. It would seem that any snow storm of this magnitude is going to take 5-10 days to clean up and this is just crazy and a little scary when you think that we used to laugh at cities like New York and Toronto for grinding to a halt every time they got a couple of inches of snow.
I think that Montrealers are in need of a few answers are entitled to know:
- what is going on and just what happened during this snow storm that left pedestrians in danger forced to walk in the streets because no sidewalks got plowed for over 7 days?
- Why was it that people who drive cars were given priority over people on foot and why were the drivers of cars forced to take rapid transit and cleaning the sidewalks for pedestrians given top priority?
- Who is responsible for this fiasco?
- What the city plans to do to ensure that this dies not happen again if anything?
I ask this because listening to city officials as they give interviews they all seem to think that everything was handled just fine and is going as well as can be expected. Making me believe that every time there is a substantial snow storm we will be getting the same type of service in the same ill thought out way. I think that if the only answer is to put pedestrians at risk while clean up is carried on then perhaps the city should declare a state of emergency every time we expect and get a lot of snow and shut the city down. At least pedestrians will legally be able to stay home where they are safe, seniors will not have to climb over 6 foot snow piles and we do not have to worry about our children walking in the street with the snow removal equipment and fast-moving traffic. If you think that I am perhaps exaggerating follow the link below. It is a video from CTV’s coverage of the snowstorm and what the citizens are feeling and saying.
It would seem that the only thing covered in our taxes these days are expensive trips for politicians, lunches at private clubs with gangsters and the hiring of friends at big salaries to do consulting work for political parties on the city payroll. No longer included in our tax dollar is the right to expect to have enough police on the force to ensure our safety from vandals, like the ones who are tagging private property; enough equipment and personnel to ensure prompt pick up of snow after it is plowed and to have side walks cleared of snow, ensuring that pedestrians which include our elderly tax paying citizen, our mobility challenged tax paying citizens and our children that we pay taxes for every year children can get around without fear of putting their lives at risk from being hit by cars, busses and snow removal trucks and equipment who do not see them in the snow pack narrow streets where they have been forced to walk in some areas for over 10 days.
After listening to the Charbonneau Enquiry and the widespread corruption this city has been engaged in for years this is one citizen who does not want to hear one more civic politician tell me anything about not having enough money to get the job done. We citizens have been put in danger by the greed and the crooked behavior of politicians of this city for too long now. Tell me this, why is it that this is not being dealt with under the Gangsterism Law? Where it would be possible to seize the personal assets and recover what has been stolen by these corrupt officials and gangsters? It is after all these politicians who cheered the loudest when it was put into practice, but I guess that this is the stuff of yet another post in the ongoing saga of government corruption and the price we citizens pay for it.