question, fellow snow shovellers: if the Feds have on their priority list a
tunnel across the Labrador Strait, why not a dome over the City of St. John’s?
OK, I get it. Funnies aren’t welcome when you’re tired and you have spent possibly
several days without power. Many people face the loss of a week’s pay too,
which worsens the financial circumstances of a good many. That said, 80 cm of
snow is no laughing matter.
is a testament to the character of people that they have endured, having used Snowmageddon
2020 as an opportunity to express the best of who they are, make new
friendships, and share their neighbourliness and their all-round civility, too.
Then, too, we acknowledge those who had to carry on in hospitals and other
institutions and on snow ploughs, maintaining essential services and working to
get the City back on its feet.
|Photo Credit: Sue Bailey (Twitter)|
that said, as a modern community, knowing as we ought to that events like last
week’s snowfall may reoccur all too soon, we should ask: is the best response
we can give nature’s wrath a shutdown of the City for eight days — schools, the
University and other academic institutions, businesses, and virtually every
other service integral to modern life?
St. John’s goes back to work on Saturday, should we just wait for the next snow
event and, in common parlance, just see what happens? I hope that we do
something more than send the Canadian Military on their way and thank them —
and Gander and Corner Brook — for their assistance.
can think of a few questions to which City Council ought to provide answers,
bearing in mind that Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South all but
cancelled their state of emergency (SOE) after just 4 days, including the storm
days on Friday and Saturday. I am well aware that they are newer communities
with wider streets and have fewer of the issues found in this City’s Downtown. But, except for the downtown core, the rest of
St. John’s substantially mirrors the organization and infrastructure of the
larger municipalities on the Avalon. Must, therefore, the entire City of St.
John’s be held shut because the downtown is buried under a blanket of snow? In
other words, is clearing the Downtown the sole reason that the rest of the City
is not functional? If not, why weren’t the other parts of the City operating?
Mount Pearl, CBS, Torbay (Jan. 19) and Paradise (Jan. 20) are open for business suggests that a very large
part of the City of St. John’s should be in sync with them. We’re not talking
Gander or Corner Brook; political jurisdiction aside, those other municipalities
are effectively extensions of St. John’s. We have to assume, therefore, that if St.
John’s had been more forward-thinking during the days when the Metropolitan
Area Board governed Mount Pearl that it would have been shuttered, too.
shuttering of the whole City a consequence of “all or nothing” legislation?
Does the City of St. John’s Act or some other piece of legislation need to be
revisited? Or is the problem as simple as St. John’s having inadequate snow
clearing equipment and personnel?
While buried deep this time, the City has
never earned a badge of honour clearing the Downtown. That includes the small-but-important
business district — largely three streets where life and limb often have to be
risked to get to a parking meter. Whether any reallocation of budgets to more
equipment and personnel occurs, the downtown requires more attention, anyway.
this Blog Post could spend more time commiserating with the losses suffered,
especially by independent businesses (Snowmageddon will be a rounding error on
the balance sheets of the Walmarts and the Costcos) and the many, many workers
who have lost wages, the fact is that most everyone — individuals, businesses
and government — emerges from this SOE worse off.
Mount Pearl and the other municipalities on the Northeast Avalon were faster
with their snow clearing, the centre of commerce in this region is St. John’s.
If St. John’s doesn’t function, neither does Donovan’s Industrial Park, other
industrial parks and businesses. In addition, the closure of Provincial and
Federal Government offices suggests that a snow-blanketed St. John’s has a
disproportionate impact on provincial GDP in consequence of the number of
public servants occupying those offices and in other ways — some evident, some
not — on the productivity of the whole province. Some of that lost productivity
will not be regained.
short, an eight-day SOE in the Capital City is not just a City matter; it is a
provincial disaster. The City of St. John’s — and the Provincial Government —
have a duty to demonstrate that they will not be too self-satisfied when the
SOE is lifted.
suggest, first, that both levels of Government immediately commit to obtaining
a review of the snow clearing response in St. John’s during the emergency, by
an independent group competent and experienced in such matters. If the deficit
is all about a lack of equipment, someone had better do the math on the
relative cost of having more on hand. (Please don’t “do a Nalcor” and choose a
Consultant who will give you the answer you want and will even let you edit
their Report!) Public involvement in the exercise is essential.
review any restrictions on the Mayor and Council, whether legislative or
regulatory, insofar as they may limit the “City-wide” effect of any SOE called.
The cost to individuals on both a human and financial level, to Governments and
the public generally, is too great not to have considered every reasonable option.
it necessary to endure a repeat of Snowmageddon 2020? I need convincing.