Sunday, 24 February 2008

winter wonderland

Toronto doesn't have a good handle on snow. I took this picture about four days after a storm. You can see that most of the snow has melted from rooftops, and the intersections are clear of their usual slush. The giant pile of snow in the lower left partially blocks a driveway, and the snow piles narrow both the roads and sidewalks by half. No space at all is left for the cyclists. Melt-off collects in giant pools at every intersection, which is especially harrowing for parents pushing strollers--they can choose to plow through four to six inches of water, or skirt the puddles by taking to the street. (for better pictures and better analysis, see

Whereas many Canadian cities have invested in equipment and policies that work together to allow the city to quickly recover from a snowstorm, Toronto's approach seems half-baked and strikingly inefficient. It's as though it hasn't snowed here in Toronto annually for the past, oh, forever. The unfortunate bit is that much of the problem could be solved at a policy level, without any significant cash outlays for new equipment.

Snow removal parking bans are one simple and obvious policy change the city can make. The idea is simple: on the day of the storm, street parking on major thoroughfares closes at some specified time, those streets and sidewalks are completely cleared, and on subsequent evenings, parking on residential streets alternates from one side to the other.

The city is already starting to get into the game--its reaction to the second and third storms of the year were significantly better than to the first.

And yet, when I went for my run today, I found myself skating down hills, leaping large puddles, and treading a clear path inches narrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

while I agree with you, Toronto received the most snow ever in the month of February. 10 years of mild winters and only a few storms breeds collective amnesia.