Letter to Calgary

Dear City of Calgary

I realize it’s a faux-pas bordering on rudeness – moving to a new town and making continual comparisons between the new city and the ‘old’ city. Especially when the ‘old town’ is portrayed as some sort of utopia and the ‘new town’ the equivalent of a slum.

So I try hard not to do that, realizing it’s immature, even short-sighted, to make such comparisons.

But as of January 13th, I’ve ceased being able to access the street on which I live from the north side. Which, I believe, entitles me to some complaints… and comparisons.

In the land from which I hail, called Ah-mur-ica (at least by its current president), they have these things called inalienable rights. To be honest, I can’t remember what the inalienable rights are…maybe ‘free speech’ and ‘the right to practice religion.’ There may be more. But there are also lesser known inalienable rights, rarely mentioned – simply assumed to exist.

Like the right to be able to drive one’s car in the city in which one resides.

My husband returned from work on the night of the 13th and informed me that he wasn’t able to ascend our street from the north side. He ended up having to drive a back way, through some random alley simply to get to our house.

Why? Because the snow covering the street is so thick and un-navigable that it is not possible to drive more than 5 yards before getting stuck. Believe me, I tried it – twice.

Now, if this was a result of some particularly heavy snowfall we’d received a day or two ago, I might be inclined to cut you some slack. But, you see, the major snowfall occurred at least a month ago, around December 7th. And has only been added to by subsequent snowfalls. So I’m at a loss as to why, in this day and age of ‘snow plows’ and ‘tax dollars’….I can’t drive on my street. Or the streets leading to my son’s preschool.

I took a cursory survey as I was driving down 17th Ave to said preschool yesterday. I’d estimate one out of every twenty streets in this city is plowed. Roughly 5 percent.

I find that untenable, even astounding, for a city of this size, accustomed to extreme weather conditions.

Lest you think I’m just a novice, not used to ‘driving in snow’ let me set you straight. I spent more than three years living in Minneapolis, a city that is smaller than yours, though similar in climate and, presumably, snowfall. There, when the snow starts falling…the snow plows come out (with the plows pointing down instead of up…this is critical) and start doing their work. There are ‘snow emergency’ rules in place, which outline when certain streets will be plowed and where one must park one’s car when that occurs. (Or risk being fined and/or towed). It’s organized, and remarkably effective.

I mean, it seems a little, comment se dit, ‘hypocritical’ that you order residents to shovel their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall, or risk being fined…if you can’t even plow their streets within a month of a snowfall. Can I fine you? Or send you the bill for my chiropractor (after I spent thirty minutes shoveling the street in front of my house yesterday – the street, not the sidewalk), or charge you for the new tire (sorry, tyre) I’ll have to get after driving over a curb that was completely covered with snow, and therefore invisible.

Currently, the only way to access the street on which I live is from the south side. And the only way to park my car without it getting stuck is…in front of my neighbor’s house, with the car pointing in the wrong direction. (Don’t even think of fining me for parking my car in the wrong direction.)

You’re not making a great case for people abandoning their gas guzzling SUV’s in favor of smaller, more environmentally friendly cars….if they can’t drive on the streets.


PS. Actually Calgary, this letter was written in good humor, but now I’m just plain angry at you. ‘It’s not your policy to plow residential streets?… It would be irresponsible to respond to fluctuations in seasonal weather?’

3 thoughts on “Letter to Calgary

  1. WOW! That is the weirdest ever…how can they just not plow the streets? Does it usually get warm enough that it melts frequently? The Arctic air has resulted in two “snow” days for us. 🙂

  2. in calgary apparently chinook=plow. unfortunately the chinooks took the month of december off and now chinook=flooding and undriveable streets.

  3. Amy, I KNOW…it was very revealing reading people’s comments to that newspaper article. I’d say 50% were of the opinion that one should just drive with a shovel in the back of one’s car and dig oneself out…you know, toughen up. I think said people haven’t actually ever set foot outside of Calgary to know it’s pretty much the norm everywhere else…


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s