Monday, January 2, 2017

Ice, ice, ice

I don't know how our back alley compares in steepness to a hill in Montreal where five vehicles successively crashed into each other, but it's steep enough to seriously hinder garbage pickup. Under the snow, the tracks are solid ice; even big trucks struggle to get up it.
The street in front of our house isn't so steep, but the tracks are ice, and the intersection at the end of the street is more of the same. There have been videos of people skating on the street in front of their houses elsewhere in the city.

This is the sidewalk in front of our house. Assiduously cleared of snow, it unfortunately became quite treacherous because of the ice patches underneath. The stores are out of salt, so John  found some sand yesterday to scatter over the ice. 

A closer view of the snow and ice in the back alley.

Looking up the hill toward Dunbar Street. With parked vehicles and only icy tracks to travel on, it can be tricky when cars meet going up and down the hill.

It was a hill, it was icy, and down it slid a bus, a pickup truck, another bus, a police car (backwards, lights flashing), then a snow-removal truck, all thumping into each other, one, two, three, four, five, almost in slow motion. No, it wasn't Vancouver with its notoriously inept winter drivers, but Montreal, where drivers have lots of experience in the snow. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphone cameras, video of the Cote du Beaver Hall crashes was all over the Internet just after they happened on Dec. 5. Maclean's went so far as to have a top Canadian curler narrate the crash sequence as if the vehicles were so many rocks in a curling bonspiel.

John and I chortled, but we're not chortling now. Nearly a month later, our whole city is in exactly the same condition as that one unsalted hill in Montreal. Lacking the equipment, know-how (and enough salt) to deal with the snow we've been having since the start of December, our city is full of vehicles and people slipping and sliding over a thick pancake of constantly thawing, freezing and rethawing ice.

There are videos of people skating down the street in front of their homes; when John and I were shopping on Dunbar, an emergency vehicle pulled up to tend to a man who had fallen on the ice as he got out of his car. So far, I have stayed upright, but I hear of people falling and broken wrists and shoulders. The Dunbar listserv is full of anecdotes about the treacherous ice and recommendations for non-slip devices to strap onto your shoes.

Vancouverites, I have to admit, are smug about their climate -- a charge quite reasonably levied by anyone from elsewhere in Canada who has received photos of West Coast daffodils in February. But when winter arrives here and decides to stick around, a pancake of ice gives it a special extra kick. As even the seasoned drivers on the Montreal hill discovered.

1 comment:

  1. Did Jane Jacob recommend her ideal city be located at sea level in a West Coast climate? It seems we are really lucking in terms of dry sidewalks and streets without ice and pretty much every service within walking distance.
    We'll definitely be sticking to the West End and major streets as much as possible. Until watching the news yesterday we really had no idea how bad things were in many parts of the city. I hope everyone keeps safe with back to school and work.