Snow emergency designation would have made storm cleanup easier
Hindsight is always perfect, but the cleanup of Friday’s 30 centimetre snowfall would surely have been quicker and more efficient if the city had declared a snow emergency.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who chairs city council’s works committee, conceded today that a lot of vehicles blocking TTC streetcar tracks would have been towed much sooner under a snow emergency.
A declaration of a snow emergency, last used in 1999, when several storms over 10 days buried the city and Mayor Mel Lastman summoned the army to help with the cleanup, allows any vehicle parked on a snow route to be towed.
A snow plow driver who sends me emails about his adventures on the road said a snow emergency would have reduced the time needed for plowing, saved the city money and made his job easier.
It would have been welcomed by many TTC riders who were stranded last weekend in a long line of streetcars because vehicles were parked too far out from the curb and too close to the tracks, due to snowbanks extending into the street.
The vehicles would have been towed ASAP under an emergency, greatly reducing the time that streetcars idled and passengers fumed because one car was parked a few inches too close to the tracks.
Two transportation services officials told me a snow emergency isn’t the cure-all it seems after a big storm. It creates other problems, like where to tow so many cars, how to deal with their angry owners and the possibility it could be seen as an overreaction, if the storm hadn’t lived up to expectations.
But if an emergency had been declared, based on the forecast of 20 to 25 centimetres of snow (the 30 centimetres that fell was the most since 2008) nobody would have said it was an overreaction.
The reluctance of city officials is understandable, given the lack of snow in recent years and how often a storm wasn’t nearly as bad as the forecast. I don’t blame them for holding back.
But I would not be inconvenienced if a snow emergency was declared, based on a 25 centimetre forecast, and a lot less fell. And I doubt that many other people, other than those whose vehicles were towed, would holler about it.