To hear lifelong West Coast residents tell it, it snows maybe once a year here.
And then it melts the next day, of course. So naturally, we spend a fraction of what Montreal, Winnipeg, or Edmonton spend on snow clearing.
But we’re running into twin problems – first, our weather is getting weirder.
Sure, we get snow every now and again in February, even March, but that’s rare.
But climate change, as has been said repeatedly, doesn’t just heat things up on average, it makes everything less predictable. Sudden cold snaps, Arctic outflows, pineapple express storms, dry spells in the wet season – we’re in for more of all of them.
The other problem is just that there are more of us.
In pursuit of reasonably priced real estate, people have spread themselves out. Here in the outer reaches of Metro Vancouver, our population has boomed just in the last decade. Go back to the 1970s, and we were still a largely rural community.
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With a population of nearly three million people spread out between Metro Vancouver and Hope, there are a lot more choke points to jam up when bad weather and drivers – poorly prepared or well equipped – run headlong into one another.
We’re lucky that the biggest portion of our recent snowfall came on a Saturday night. Relatively few people had to head off to work at that hour, and crews had all day Sunday to clear things up beforeMonday’s rush hour.
But imagine if that snow had hit around 3 p.m. on a typical Thursday? Would it have been another mess like earlier in the winter, with bridges turned into parking lots, and 20-hour commutes?
We may never spend as much as Montreal does, but regionally and locally, we’re going to have to enhance our response to winter weather, with snow plows, salting trucks, and buses equipped to handle snow, ice, and hail.