Olds needs to improve snow-clearing standards

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 01:05 pm | John Gleeson

The letters on this page fairly reflect the anger and frustration that was so evident last week after the Town of Olds was buried under a March snowstorm.

And stayed buried for a period of time that some felt was inexcusably long.

Merrilee Watson makes the comparison to Didsbury, where the streets in the business section were “clean from curb to curb” first thing Wednesday, while the Olds core was still largely an unapproachable mess. Carstairs and Airdrie, motorists reported, were also in much better shape than Olds. Even by Thursday, Kathy Steele wrote, there was still the exasperating sense of “what is the town waiting for?”

The anecdotes rolled in. A woman whose car was stuck in the middle of a major commercial street called a tow truck to pull her out. After finally realizing what she was asking for, the driver told her to forget it. Luckily, some merchants pushed her out.

One Didsbury tradesman who drove to Olds to conduct some business said he circumnavigated the town once, couldn't find a place to park within blocks of his destination, so he simply drove home.

An Innisfail merchant compared Olds to Sleepy Hollow, joking that the men here would have long white beards before they got shovelled out. It sounded like he had two Washington Irving stories confused, but the point was clear. Olds might have a bigger population than Innisfail, it might be close to 10,000 when the college is running full tilt, it might have big-box stores and be cutting edge when it comes to fibre-to-the-premise and fair trade and sustainable beach balls – but it can't quite handle the cleanup from a typical winter storm.

It's not that the crews aren't doing their jobs. It's the town that sets the level of service and the crews are required to meet those standards with the staffing and equipment at their disposal.

The message last week was that the people of Olds want a higher level of service when it comes to snow clearing. If it means more hires, more contracting, more call-ins – that's for council to decide. If it means other priorities have to be let go, that too is for council to determine.

Olds is a major hub for this region. Expecting the town to take a two-day siesta during the middle of a business week because of a dump of snow is not an acceptable response.


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