Note: this post was originally written for WalkSpace over at www.SpacingOttawa.ca site. I repeat it here just in case you don’t also read Spacing — shame on you! Go subscribe right now!
Whether or not you enjoy well-plowed winter sidewalks depends on where you live, when you use them, and your neighbours.
Sidewalks get a lot of use in the urban bits of the City. Especially where the road is a grid pattern, pedestrians can get from point A to B directly and easily on a route easily understood.
The City plows the sidewalks in winter. If you are an early riser walking to work or the bus stop, the sidewalk plowing is most noticeable when it hasn’t yet been done at 7am. Non-commuters with flexible time are more likely to be satisfied with plowing provided it is done at all.
Neighbours can pitch in, for better or worse. On one side of my street there is a retired resident with a snowblower. He usually makes the first track all the way along the block, as he has done for years.
I am not sure if he is being thoughtful for the rest of people on the street, or just havin’ fun with the big toy. (After a decade of this service, I guess it’s time to bake him some cookies to say thank you …). Whatever, it works out well. Much better than a previous resident further up the street who always used his blower for a super-clean driveway but he blew the snow onto the sidewalk with abandon. Gee, thanks!
Kids can be useful too. Some people only remember the kids who climb on snow piles and knock the snow back down onto the driveway or sidewalk. I prefer to challenge kids (usually about 8-10 years old is just right…) to see if they can shovel a path all the way up to the corner of the street. For a number of years, the City had my block on the latter part of the City’s sidewalk plowing schedule, but there was always a narrow path dug out about 4pm when the kids got home from school. By time they were old enough to ask for money, they were no longer interested in shoveling.
I live in the last house on a dead-end street, at the lowest point on the street. Guess where the catch basins are? Yup, out under the Mount Trashmore that gets stacked up on the street. I’m always out digging a path along the curb make sure the water runs down the sewer and not into my basement. I don’t tend to do as nice a job as this person did last weekend on Preston Street:
Walking the sidewalks after a snowfall may be a drudge or a an adventure. A young lady up the street was brushing snow off her car while her yappy dog burst with excitement trying to jump up to catch the flying snow:
I used to call the phone number on the laneway post where private contractors plowed the snow from someone’s driveway onto the sidewalk. They never sounded interested or concerned, so I switched to snitching on them to 3-1-1. They keep track of offenders, issuing a warning ticket once then severe penalties for subsequent offences. The dumping of snow onto sidewalks is pretty much eliminated where I walk.
But there are exceptions. Here is our good neighbour Claridge. They have a sales office and contractor’s parking lot at 89-91 Nepean, where they are in the process of getting approved yet another small-lot 28 storey condo. They plowed all the lot onto the sidewalk, but tidied up carefully on the car parking lane. When I got to my destination a call to 3-1-1 and on my return trip the snow was gone.
Do your neighbours do anything special for winter sidewalks? Do YOU do anything for your neighbours?