“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…”
Yes, for the second week in a row, holiday tunes are on the tongue as an unseasonable (and in some people’s opinion, unreasonable) 30 centimetres of snow was dumped on Meadow Lake and other parts of the North. Unfortunately, as premature as it may have been, any festive spirit that arose as a result of the recent snowfall was no match for the usual barrage of comments directed toward the city in the wake of a winter storm – some which were laced with so much negativity, the Grinch himself would surely blush.
Meadow Lake is a city and, as such, its residents should be provided with certain amenities allotted to similarly classified communities. However, the fact remains Meadow Lake is still a relatively small municipality no matter what it may say on paper, and thus common sense dictates certain limitations must be taken into consideration. A lack of snow plows actively clearing snow during a snowstorm is a serious gripe, but when resources are limited and Mother Nature is having a mid-life crisis, a little more leniency must be granted.
When it comes to clearing the streets of snow, the city has certain priorities it follows to ensure the right roads are being addressed at the right time. The first priority is clearing the streets which house the fire hall, the hospital and the long-term care facility. Priority two streets include those on which schools are situated, as well as Centre Street and the local highways. The last priority is to clear residential streets. In the case of this past weekend, city workers actually began tackling priority one streets at 4 a.m. Saturday. By Sunday, however, the wintry weather returned with a vengeance and, by Monday, the city was required to address the priority one streets yet again. This meant, for the most part, residential areas probably didn’t see a plow before the workers had no choice but to refocus their efforts on clearing access to emergency services and other important locations.
Meanwhile, the city is currently dealing with a shortage of manpower. According to city manager Diana Burton, Meadow Lake lost both of its trained equipment operators in the last year. To compensate for this, other workers have been undergoing the necessary training to help fill the void, while the public works manager himself climbed into the cab and got down to business in an effort to get as much of the snow cleared in as timely a fashion as possible. And, while the city always has the option of contracting the work out, an early snowfall the magnitude of the one experienced on the weekend wasn’t felt only in Meadow Lake, meaning anyone offering such services was likely in high demand across the board.
Everyone has an opinion and, at times, the city can be an easy target. That’s why it’s important to know the facts before drawing conclusions. This much snow in such a short period of time is unusual, especially so early in the season. If anything, the city should be commended for the efforts it has taken to make the most of a messy situation.