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Municipal Politics

Please Advise! How Did We Do in the Great Blizzard of ’22?

Don’t believe the naysayers, says Dr. Steve. Vancouver knows snow.

Steve Burgess 1 Dec

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Vancouver has had its first real snow of the season. How did we do?


Snow Tired

Dear Tired,

It is that time of year, certainly — snow on the ground, Winter Wonderland on the supermarket PA, World Cup soccer on TV. Tradition!

There's a narrative floating around — more than a narrative really, a trope, a smear, a knee-jerk jibe, a seasonal melody as predictable as Mariah Carey — that Vancouver doesn't do snow.

Lies, says Dr. Steve. White lies, so deep you can shovel them. We are a snow town. Anyone who says Vancouver doesn't function in the snow, well, take that with a grain of salt. (Hope you stocked up.)

Maybe there are some issues on major traffic routes — a few tobogganing accidents where the toboggans are Toyotas and Fords and Hyundais. Perhaps there are lines of buses that are now essentially trailer parks and could perhaps be fitted with power and sewer to become emergency housing. But let's not focus on those. Vancouver is an ideal place to have snow. Our city can really benefit from a good snowstorm.

For example, when snow is on the ground it is harder for crows to sneak up on you. This is in contrast to northern Manitoba where snow offers camouflage to polar bears. Advantage, Vancouver.

Also, we do snow in the right quantities. The rest of Canada, frankly, has a problem with the white stuff. They don't know when to quit. It seems magical in December but by March the kicks have worn off and your life is a living hell. Dr. Steve has been there. Vancouver? We know when we've had enough. A bit of powder and then it's right back to the B.C. buds. Usually.

A person wearing a bulky coat and hat shovels a small amount of snow in front of a shop with a large open door and lighted interior. Two people are on the sidewalk.
'Snow gives Vancouver residents a chance to demonstrate our indomitable Canadian-ness.' Photo by Steve Burgess.

It's nice to get some snow though. Snow has a place in our national psyche, in our leisure, even in our politics. Anyone involved in Canadian politics will recall that in 1984 Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously took “a walk in the snow” before announcing his retirement. Ever since, the proverbial walk in the snow has been a Canadian signal that a political era is ending. And thus it must be once again. So long Premier David Eby, we hardly knew ye. You had a good run.

Or perhaps this year's snowfall signals the departure of ex-Surrey mayor Doug McCallum. If so, this may be a good time to remind everyone to stay safe out there — getting your foot run over by a snowplow is no joke.

Snow gives foreign students a chance to make the snowballs and snow people they had been promised by brochures. Snow covers the layers of goose poop. It makes the lyrics of Good King Wenceslas less puzzling. It obscures road signs so you are free to do whatever you want. And snow gives Vancouver residents a chance to demonstrate our indomitable Canadian-ness.

Other provinces get to do this a lot — they get to take turns pulling each other out of ditches with farm equipment, and they get to show up at November CFL games shirtless. That's tougher for us, with the domed stadium and all. But we have something else to prove our winter bona fides. We have bicycles. They say we can't drive in snow. Well, can they bike? We do.

There were a number of bicycles cleaving the falling snow downtown on Tuesday afternoon. Walking along Pender as it came down sideways in a stiff wind, Dr. Steve happened upon a delivery guy loading up an order from Picado Pizza and Cafe. As the young man prepared to set off on his scooter, Dr. Steve commiserated with him: “Tough day, huh?”

“Yes,” he said. “But I am more tough than the day.”

Snow. It's the fluffy stuff that builds character. Get out there and push a bus, people!  [Tyee]

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