Snow way to treat a lady
The good news: I am down 11 pounds since Jan. 7. Yay me. I have been sticking fairly religiously to a 1700-1800 calorie diet of four-five meals a day, including a nightly guacamole and corn cracker binge.
|KEITH BEATY/TORONTO STAR|
The bad news: Most of my exercise has come from dealing with the insane amount of snow that is heaped all over Toronto.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mind the fresh air, the sunshine, the banter with the neighbours. I am in great shape so I can handle a fairly large shovel with heavy loads. I don't even get sore after two hours of literally moving mountains of the stuff.
I can also clamber over the metre-high snowbanks that line every street, including nearby Danforth, a major commercial artery. And, with the waterproof, deep tread boots I have been wearing (so much for fashion, let me tell ya), I can stomp through the slush and keep my tootsies dry.
What's more, I am a five-minute walk from the subway and a 10-minute stroll from four major streetcar lines -- although it's hard slogging through the unplowed sidewalks. But years of leg work, strong calf muscles and a solid core keep me steady on my feet.
So what's the problem?
I see so many people suffering because this city can't deal with the accumulation of snow.
Little old ladies with their bundle buggies who are isolated and housebound because one slip and there goes a hip. The old guy with the motorized scooter who walks a giant bull mastiff he keeps for protection because he lives in a dicey project not far from me. Mothers who can't push strollers. Retailers losing business because the sidewalks are inaccessible.
Yesterday, I watched a giant delivery truck spin its wheels in front of my house for more than two hours. What if there had been a fire up the street?
Meanwhile, my friend Sandro Contenta was stuck on a streetcar for more than 20 minutes on a busy crosstown street, traffic tied up for who knows how far behind?
Two Saturdays ago, I scaled the snowbanks three times trying to find a working parking meter -- they seem to freeze up in the cold -- so I could buy and haul home a pet kennel. None worked. I gave up -- and got a $30 ticket along with my soaked pants.
Amazing how efficient this city is at ticketing cars but not at cleaning the snow.
But that's not all. As I was attempting to pay my lousy $2.50 for an hour's worth of parking, I spotted a small crowd around an elderly man, out cold, his head smashed against the sidewalk. He had fallen as he had tried to get over one of the snowbanks. It did not look good at all.
How much is this costing citizens, in broken bones, lost productivity, lost revenues?
Sandro and I just don't get it. As ex-Montrealers, we know what efficient snow removal means to a city. Both of us talked about how, just before Christmas, Montreal got a 50 cm. dump -- and it was cleared within a couple of days.
When I last lived in Montreal, the rumble of the snow removal ballet would wake me up. I'd sit in the dark and watch from my living room window. First the little sidewalk plows would come. Then the big graders for the street. Then the snow blowers, trailed by convoys of dump trucks that would cart their loads away. Within 20 minutes, all the snow would be gone.
Here in Toronto, in the month of February, we have seen snowfalls of 10-20 cms. But no clean-ups -- and no melting -- in between. The accumulation now is something approaching 100 cm.
There's no excuse for no clean-up. It's not like it fell overnight.
Now there's no place left to put the snow.
If I want to shovel my walk, I will have to throw the snow up over six feet to reach the top of the mountain in front of my house. I can't do that. Who can? And anyway, at this point, it threatens to avalanche on to the sidewalk.
This morning I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym, in front of a bank of TVs. All of us were watching the weather forecasts with dread. More snow on the way. But not a plow in sight.
Canadians in other cities seem to get tremendous kicks out of how Torontonians complain about the snow. I am not complaining about the snow. I quite love it.
I am complaining about a city that is buried by incompetence.
If you feel the same way, please, let your city councilor and Mayor David Miller know. Click here for their email addresses.
Because, believe me, there's more than snow being shoveled in this town.