Snowmageddon: just let it happen!
By Sophie Isbister, Staff Writer
Another snow day, another battle of the Facebook statuses. Traffic grinds to a halt, the SkyTrain completely shuts down, and people bail walking uphill to the New Westminster campus as if they’re training for a new Olympic sport: the fall-on-your-ass-athon. And of course, people post myriad complaints on their social media in a relentless outpouring usually reserved for the latest Kony-style meme.
But what I find more annoying are the counter-complaints that flood in from folks who have the misfortune of living in snowier corners of our meteorologically-diverse country. Oh, how dare those Vancouverites complain about the snow! They don’t know what it’s like to dig themselves out of four feet of snow every day and walk uphill both ways to school, etcetera and on and on. As if complaining all over the Internet wasn’t bad enough. No, when the strange white stuff begins to fall from the sky, we’re subjected to a veritable Russian nesting doll of complainers.
But it’s the latter complainers I can’t stand. Why can’t they just let us Vancouverites have our one week of weather griping and terrible driving? We don’t complain about heat waves or months of sun-deprivation. No, we reserve our bad vibes for a very specific situation that only happens once or twice a year. The dreaded snowfall.
And it’s fair enough that Vancouverites should complain. After all, our infrastructure can’t handle even a little bit of ice. We have open-air rapid transit (which nobody complains about when the weather is nice), tons of hills, and drivers who can’t be expected to have snow tires in the off chance that we’ll have a proper winter. “Well,” cry out the complainers, “they should be more prepared!” But why?
I’m no economist, but I think that the expense of upgrading our infrastructure to handle a Saskatchewan-style snow-dump is probably more expensive than just shutting down the city for a day. I bet the cost to the economy is much lower than the cost of sinking our whole rapid transit system underground and investing in snowploughs that will only see a few days of road-time every year. There was a reason we sold those useless things in the first place!
No, I’m all for a city that shuts down and complains. Vancouverites are tougher than you’d think. We suffer through our weeks of winter, stubbornly wearing shorts or capris in spite of the plummeting temperatures. We deserve to get a bit down in the dumps when our temperate utopia is shattered, and we don’t deserve to be crapped on for it by the rest of you unfortunate Canadians. So, rest of Canada, I’m putting you on notice. No more complaining about our complaining! The next person who gives me shit for whining about winter weather is officially not allowed to visit during our beautiful, balmy summers.
Snowmageddon, my ass
By Keating Smith, Staff Writer
Vancouverites and their ability to drive in winter conditions are some of the most intriguing and baffling aspects of Canadian culture. While the challenging topography of the Lower Mainland and the wetness of West Coast snow are significant contributors to the arduous and daunting task of driving here during the colder months, the last time I checked, Vancouver was part of Canada; a country legendary for its extreme climate and elements in the winter. I do not form any type of bias or judgment against people based on their age, race, gender, or ethnicity when I argue that people have no excuse for not driving safely during the winter in Vancouver.
An aspect of winter driving that drove me insane a few weeks back was how much the local media focused on and bastardized the unsafe conditions of the newly built Port Mann Bridge when it snows. The bridge has been placed in the history books as a feat of engineering when compared to other cable-stay bridges throughout the world, and, for the most part, relieved traffic congestion for hundreds of thousands of commuters. Ice falling off the overhead rigging and onto vehicles below is unfortunate, but far worse snow and ice related incidents occur on the province’s highways at this time of year, such as avalanches. From what I’ve witnessed, people in the interior don’t curse avalanches and slides until they are cleared away by road crews, but rather see them as an inconvenient aspect of winter driving to which they have become accustomed.
Every winter, BCAA and ICBC remind us of the importance of driving with winter tires, along with carrying snow chains through various mediums. Are we so ignorant and cheap that we slough these messages off, thinking that perhaps this winter we will not see the white stuff on the ground? The degree of how much solid precipitation we receive and how long it lasts may vary from year to year; however, Vancouver receives snow every year. You cannot afford a luxury like snow tires for your car, you say? Then you cannot afford the privilege of driving, in my opinion.
Like your grandfather, I walked and later drove to school through blizzards and in temperatures that froze exposed skin in a matter minutes on a regular basis while growing up on the Prairies. I can remember a few seldom times when school or work was cancelled because of cold temperatures or snow. To this day, I have never been in an accident because of snowy conditions—knock on wood. The rest of Canada deals with winter conditions far worse than what we in Vancouver are used to and, although it may not be the most pleasurable task, it is a part of our identity as Canadians.
So Vancouver, please: slow down, think before you apply pressure to the accelerator, and if you feel uncomfortable driving in winter conditions, hire a cab, take the bus, or just stay at home.