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Need a better plan

By Catherine Burgess

I love St. John’s, I really do. It’s a beautiful, old city with history and character pouring out of every corner.

Part of its appeal to visitors is that it is so historic — the rough, winding streets with rows of Crayola coloured houses, the random cobblestoned stretches, the charming shops (Auntie Crae’s, may you rest in peace) — it all makes for an experience that is hard to come by in most other parts of the country. It would be a shame for St. John’s to ever lose its historic vibe.

But our city desperately needs to step up some of its services to catch up with the rest of the country, and this could certainly be done without sacrificing any of its character.

The most pressing issue that our city needs to focus on is that of the city streets. I’m sure that many would agree, especially the wintertime walkers. This time of year, especially — February sees more snow fall than any other winter month, and where does it go? Nowhere. It sits on the edges of the streets and on the sidewalks.

And people have had enough of it.

It was only Feb. 15 that downtown merchants spoke up about how the lack of snow-clearing could affect their businesses. The city had banned the use of parking meters on stretches of the busy downtown streets due to snow pile-up, making those shoppers hunting for a parking metre feel more like giving up on their errands instead. Business owners weren’t pleased. The city argued that it was necessary for parking to be limited so that emergency vehicles could pass through the narrow streets.

St. John’s is an old city and many of its now busy streets were once rough cow paths. These narrow, winding streets are indeed usually wonderful exploring grounds, but between the looming snow banks they become a nightmare to navigate. Some of our streets are so narrow that the snow forces everyone — walkers, runners, cyclists, drivers — to share a small lane in the middle of the road. St. John’s should have a better plan in place to deal with this.

This city is not made up of only drivers, nor do these drivers rule the roads. Our city, like every city, has pedestrians, and a large percentage of those walkers are students, faculty and staff from Memorial University and other colleges in the metro region.

The sidewalk snow pile-up in the city isn’t just an annoyance, it’s a danger.

The sidewalk clearing issue has been a hot topic for years. It’s deplorable that sidewalks can’t be kept clear. What is it going to take to finally get the ball rolling on this? When will the city finally realize that something more needs to be done?