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Metro Vancouver has had a few “snow events” recently which have thwarted active transportation and transit users. It is very true that these events have been less frequent in recent years. It is also true that people are also walking and cycling more in all kinds of weather. Global News reported that icy walkways along the  False  Creek Seawall were still not salted by the 27th and were  causing pedestrian slipping and sliding. If you were wondering, commercial businesses and home owners are responsible for shovelling out their respective sidewalks. But public walkways and the sidewalk noted below? It’s the municipalities’ responsibility.
In  Delta, 52nd Street which is the street that is not only a walking loop but also  directly  connects the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall with the rest of Tsawwassen has one sidewalk going down a very steep slope. While the road was salted and sanded, pedestrians were left to grapple for themselves down the icy sidewalk surface last weekend. This is the street that the Mayor of Delta wants a pedestrian overpass over Highway 17 -if the pedestrians can make it down the frozen incline with no salting by the Corporation.

In Metro Vancouver where we are supportive of all season active transportation and so hoping that those not driving with snow tires  will keep their vehicles off the winter road, we should be ensuring that the walking and cycling paths are salted and safe for citizens. It’s quite simply the right thing to do. Sure citizens should shovel out the sidewalks in front of their houses as a courtesy-but municipal salting of heavily used sidewalks and icy public walkways is necessary for  safety and comfort too.


  1. To this old Prairie boy snow management in the Metro is a complete joke at all levels.
    Major arterials like Boundary Road and Cambie were not plowed or salted until days after the “snow events” even though there were several days of weather warnings beforehand. The result? Buses and trucks going backwards or sideways down the hills. No transit service. Overwhelmed emergency services during relatively minor events that Calgary or Montreal take for granted.
    The sidewalk at Tswwassen Mills was bad? Try Broadway in almost any block to gauge how effective the sidewalk clearing bylaw really is, even for major commercial retail outfits let alone the adjacent apartment residential sidestreets even two weeks after the first snowfall. If you want to estimate the management effectiveness of a particular apartment complex, check out their front walks a week after snow. If it’s icy, best stay away.

    1. The fella with a body-builder physique who lives just down my street hasn’t shoveled his walk. One of quite few on my block, but he’s the one I find most amusing in a ‘that’s actually not funny at all’ way.

        1. Why should I single him out from all the other people who aren’t complying with the rule? Or do you think I should go up and down the block with a little notebook and ‘prod’ all my neighbours? I’ll bet that vigilance would lose its lustre if I suggested a similar approach to vehicular scofflaws.

      1. He might have been hit by a cyclist and suffered an injury to his spine and have an insurance claim outstanding that could be negated if he were to be seen shovelling.

        1. Individuals who are at risk of a heart attack during cold outdoor activities include:
          Those with a prior heart attack
          Those with known heart disease
          Those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol
          As him for his med ID.

        2. Maybe he’s renting and clearing is the responsibility of the owner. If so, while you’re asking him about his blood pressure and any doctors orders you’d better ask him if he is the owner and is if so ask if you can take a look at his lease. There might be a clause exempting one or the other party.

        3. Is your New Year’s resolution to make increasingly idiotic comments in response to an offhand observation? If so, I’d say 2017 is off to a fine start for you Eric.

      2. So in other words Chris, all talk no action. I wonder why anyone would choose to live in a neighbourhood where so many of the neighbours appear to be extremely lazy, extremely selfish or just antisocial.

        1. ‘all talk, no action’
          I have made no suggestion that the appropriate response to an unshovelled sidewalk is to phone the authorities. That is your position. How many people have you reported Bob?

    2. I not only clear my section of sidewalk, but do two or three properties on ether side. Now other neighbors do the same thing This makes it really easy to keep the sidewalks clear of snow and we probably have one of the cleanest sidewalks of any block in the city. Benefits are exercise, good will and neighborliness and the grateful comments from passers by makes the whole process super worthwhile.
      The city has set up a Snow Angels volunteer coordination service to match residents with people who are incapable of clearing their portion of the sidewalk.
      I have put my name forward as a volunteer. I encourage others to do the same. Can’t wait for my first callout.

  2. A few days ago, approx. Dec. 23, I was surprised by the lousy snow clearing along the Seaside Path in Olympic Village..considering the reality it was not a huge snowfall a few days before. There were pedestrians and cyclists carefully negotiating their way across ice patches and water in this area.
    While Calgary doesn’t have as good cycling infrastructure as Vancouver, is much colder, gets more snow regularily, as a resident there who lives right near major river bike path and separated bike lane in Calgary for past few years, Calgary municipal staff and their contractors, genuinely do a much better snow clearing job in the downtown area for pedestrians and cyclists. I literally can hear the snow clearing machines at night in early evening in my neighbourhood. The city of Calgary has an internal service target to clear their separated bike lanes of snow within 24 hrs. of snowfall or faster. It’s for real…and ticks off some drivers. But reality, it becomes a worse headache if snow is left in the lane too long as it piles up, frozen.
    Given the larger volume of cyclists in Vancouver downtown in 2016 (compared to a decade ago), there’s no reason for not clearing the public bike-pedestrian paths. THis too is part of a liveable city –year round. ANd as a Canadian city, north of ie. Portland, there’s no reason not to keep public road, paths and lanes plus sidewalks, clear for safety.

    1. The city does have many of the highly used cycle paths and routes on their priority snow clearing routes list. Councillor Affleck dissed the city for having icy arterials a year ago and at the same time diverting resources for clearing bike routes. I have been super impressed with their salting of bike routes but have found them weak on some dedicated cycle sections like Ontario between 10th and 11th. I found this year to be particularly bad for some sections, e.g. Seaside Path near Science World and CVG near Renfrew station. Overall, I would give the city kudos for their efforts in keeping the bike paths and routes rideable all winter.

      1. Really Arno? You can look at a picture which clearly shows the city’s prioritization of cyclists over pedestrians an try to blame it on cars? The paths are adjacent for heavens sake.

        1. Among the bike proponents are leaders that believe that bike paths are more important than roadways for buses or ambulances because those are also available for the devilish car and the even more horrible SUV.

        2. Hey, I have an SUV. No horns. Not at all devilish. Carries our bikes quite nicely.
          Maybe you meant SOV?
          The issue isn’t the vehicle, or vehicle type, or person driving it. It is the use.

        3. One could look at that picture and say that it is terrible, and it is all the fault of the cyclists. Or, one could look at that picture and say hey, that’s progress, they cleared the bike path, now keep going and clear the walkway.
          Glass half empty or glass half full.

        4. I like walking in the snow and am glad they aren’t in such a rush to salt and clear the whole thing in a hurry. And to me it is entirely acceptable for pedestrians to walk in the cleared areas under these conditions.
          I also like t see x-country skiers on the seawall and it’s great the few times that it’s possible.
          Some people like Bob and Eric have no joy in their lives.

        5. Feel the joy.
          Walking on snow or ice when it’s cold outside can be an difficult endeavor. Thousands of people suffer serious injuries every year because they lose their footing in icy or slippery conditions. Whether they occur in the workplace, at home, or anywhere else, winter slip and fall accidents are all-too-common.
          Ice-related Slip & Fall Injury Causes & Statistics
          The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 million Americans are injured, and 17,000 people die, as a result of slip and fall injuries every year. According to one study, slip and fall injury rates increase significantly as temperatures decline, with most injuries resulting from contact with outside services.
          About half of all people injured in slip and fall injuries are walking on level ground when they slip. These types of injuries are also a significant danger to seniors. About one out of every three people age 65 or older will fall each year.

        6. I see two paths in the photo in this thread. One is cleared, one is not. Take your pick. Under these conditions nobody’s going to complain if people walk on the half that’s cleared even if it’s technically limited to the cycling half.
          You sure love tossing irrelevant data at discussions. It would be more helpful if you used the information wisely.

        7. Bob, the fact is that by far the most resources of CoV and all other municipalities is devoted to motor vehicle transportation. Note that all arterials are salted and cleared of snow. City has long had a by-law that sidewalks in front of residences and commercial buildings must be cleared of snow and ice by 10AM. Only recently has the city added the 15 most highly used bike paths and routes to their snow clearing priority list so that people could cycle after a snowfall, though it is only some routes and as pointed out there are many gaps.

          So yes, a cleared bicycle path is a bit or progress and certainly does not show a priority for cycling.

        8. More for Bob… The other day I saw a city worker busily clearing the sidewalks around Queen Elizabeth Park beside Ontario St. Does that mean that pedestrians have the highest priority? Most streets in Vancouver already have separated walking facilities, so it seems clear that pedestrians do have quite a high priority since by comparison there are only protected cycling facilities on a few city blocks. But wait, the same person cleared the sidewalk along Midlothian which was already bare. So which mode does have the highest priority? I’ll give you a hint – it is not cycling.

  3. I guess the relevant question no one seems to be asking is whether or not the Seawall and similar paths were plowed/cleared before the addition of separate bike lanes in some locations. If not, any snow clearing would be an improvement on past practice wouldn’t it?

  4. Falling snow flakes,
    a change of pace
    for some, too much
    for others not enough.
    It cannot prevail against the many
    so aggrieved, its wonders lost
    down salty drains.
    Gravity plays its part
    in frightful ways,
    lest we slip and fall on
    snow, just snow.

  5. Saw the blind guy today that walks around our neighbourhood – negotiating the sidewalk on Grandview across from Stuporstore – still lots of ice. Can’t imagine the prison it has been for him for the past month.
    Also saw the old guy in a wheelchair that goes from the care home to the pizza joint almost every day. At least that’s close and clear.

    1. I’ll bet they didn’t get petroleum Lycra Castelli bib pants for Christmas.
      Ship them out to pasture in the burbs. They don’t belong in the resort.

  6. Last week when I was on the Ontario bikeway (at 11th) and had to dismount and walk around it on the *cleared* sidewalk because the little parkette hadn’t been cleared and was frozen slush, I was pondering whether the city is now intentionally not clearing the bike paths so they don’t get accused of pro-cyclist bias.
    It’s all speculation and perspective I guess. I really don’t know.
    Maybe they just need to have more snow plows and more crews on-call for big dumps like we occasionally get.

  7. At the risk of sounding like a grouchy old fart, I don’t know if it was mandated by law, but when I was a kid my Mother made sure that our sidewalk was cleared every time it snowed in Kelowna. She believed that it was one of those small responsibilities that we all accept as part of living in this world, like not littering, reading the newspaper, and picking up after your dog.
    In fact, she still shovels the walk at age 89, despite being told that she’s too old.
    I do not understand why so many people seem to need reminders or admonishments to do such small, obvious tasks. Have we, as a culture, really grown that selfish and lazy?

  8. Went for a walk today,
    in the winter wonderland,
    in the snow, sometimes
    crunchy and noisy,
    soft and fluffy,
    wet and slushy.
    Made some snowballs,
    hit some stop signs.
    Tried running and sliding
    on flat leather shoes
    very smooth.

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