The arse is out of ‘er, let’s help our neighbours and ourselves


Friends, the arse is right out of ‘er and it is only going to get worse.

My friend Chris asked me “What are the odds that we can motivate for a citizens “sidewalk shovel day”? A one shot deal to help ourselves.” With up to 30 cms of snow coming tomorrow and with snow banks in the core already five to six feet tall we are in a crisis and it is going to get worse.

It is safe to say that your road is not going to get wider, most sidewalks are not going to be plowed properly, the curb cuts between sidewalk and crosswalk are going to suck. Staff and contractors are overwhelmed.

Whether you think the city should clear sidewalks or not, the fact is right now we mostly have sidewalk plows, and plows don’t work that well when there are five feet of snow on both sides of the sidewalk. There is no where to push the snow too!

Chris is right. I hope people get out there and dig deep (pun intended) and shovel their walks, their neighbours walks, and dig out the corners.

In a couple weeks we can look at blame or technical, service and funding choices about how things could be fixed or done better next year. That discussion isn’t going to help anyone today.

Right now, let’s do what we can to help our neighbours and community get through the next couple days.

  • Marian Munro

    You are so right. Bring on the shovel brigade! Oh, wait a minute I have been doing that all winter!

  • Jadie

    If it is truly a “crisis” shouldn’t the province be involved in solving the problem of snow removal? Where is the EMO when, it’s quite clear that some streets are impassable for emergency vehicles when cars are parked. I’m basing this on these streets being scarcely passable for my prius, like Black St.

    At the very least, personnel working on the CF bases should park on base. It may cost a few dollars, but it goes a long way to protecting citizens and promoting a safe environment with at least some right-of-way for all.

    • Waye Mason

      There is a big space between “State of Emergency” and “cannot meet the service standards for normal winter weather”. This isn’t a life an limb situation like in say Charlottetown, but it is beyond what the staff and equipment can handle in a timely fashion.

      • Joanne

        I don’t see where Jadie referred to a “State of Emergency” . It appears that you stated “We are in a crisis and it is going to get worse.” So what is considered to be worse than a “Crisis” ?

        • Waye Mason

          No she didn’t, I was agreeing with her. We are not at a State of Emergency but we still require a different response than business as usual.

      • Michael MacDonald

        Tell that to disabled people.

        • Yes, exactly. THis is why we need to clear the streets ourselves, to help our disabled neighbours be able to get around!

          • Michael MacDonald

            Ok, Waye, looks like you have all the answers. Welcome to unreality land. Don’t think for a moment that you are being truly helpful. Unless, of course, you’d like to drop your very important meetings and get out there 24/7 to help the disabled.

  • LookUpAlways

    Well-said, Waye! We can do a post-mortem when we’re through all this; right now, we just need to get through all this.

    • Guard420516

      At least someone has common sense. This is not a normal winter weather for Hfx. Budgets and plans are created using recent historical information. LiKe why I had an oil bill last July and August – which I won’t have this year..

      • Joanne

        If HRM used recent historical information why is 2014-2015 budget less than half of 2013-2014 or 2012-2013 actual costs ?

        • Guard420516

          Where can one access the budget info quoted above ? Would like to see the backup.

          • Joanne

            I posted the link but it is still waiting to be approved by Waye mason.

  • Ross Daniels

    great idea we have been doing our side walks all winter just to make it easier to get in and out of our driveway… every bit helps and the snow plow leaves very little behind because the side walk is bare

  • Ashley Pringle

    Are you kidding me? So the city under budgeted snow removal, low
    balling the tenders to contractors to the point that the contractors
    have absolutely no chance of getting the job done, and now we’re
    supposed to pick up the slack?

    In the past, individual citizens were fined for not shoveling their sidewalk. Yet when the city doesn’t get the job done, we’re supposed to be a happy family and work together to get rid of the snow?

    This is patronizing and ridiculous.

    “In a couple weeks we can look at blame or technical, service and funding
    choices about how things could be fixed or done better next year.”

    Or we can look at it right now. Cost cutting to the snow removal budget combined with Linda Mosher’s moronic proposal that the city clean the sidewalks caused this, NOT the snow. We live in Nova friggin’ Scotia, there is snow here, sometimes a lot of it. Budget for it properly and stop contracting snow removal out to multiple contractors all working in disconnect without the resources to even get the job done.

    Seriously, I was a bit annoyed with the whole snow removal thing before, but this made me furious. I’ve already been shoveling out my sidewalk after the plows crushed the snow into 6 inches of compacted ice, I don’t need a politician telling me to shovel myself out and not think about how the city dropped the ball on this.

    • Waye Mason

      Well Ashley you can blame right now, but that won’t help anyone TOMORROW when 30 more cm of snow comes down.

      • Michael MacDonald

        Waye, your polyana comments are Waye outta line.

        • Rstull

          i dont think he even realizes it. a shame really.

        • Pollyanna – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster …

          Full Definition of POLLYANNA. : a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.

          Yep, that is me!

          • Michael MacDonald

            Yep, but in spite of your ability to use a dictionary, I think you are missing my point.

  • John van Gurp

    This is why you need to stay on Council for the long term.

  • Joanne

    How about “right now” we finally hear from Savage and he tells the residents of HRM that a decision was made to set this years snow / ice removal budget at $10,429,876 and propose another $1,450,000 in savings when the total last year was $24,205,676(according to HRM’s budget) That is almost a 50% reduction. How is it possible to do a better job with 1/2 the funding ?

    • Waye Mason

      The Chronicle Herald reports that snow removal budgets actual numbers are:

      •2014-15: Budgeted — $20 million. Actual — unknown.
      •2013-14: Budgeted — $19.99 million. Actual — $24,205,700
      •2012-13: Budgeted — $15.12 million. Actual — $18,557,304
      •2011-12: Budgeted — $12.42 million. Actual — $18,364,604
      •2010-11: Budgeted — $12.25 million. Actual — $18,963,381
      •2009-10: Budgeted — $12.44 million. Actual — $18,187,798

      Not that debating this today will help when it snows 30 cms tomorrow.

      • Joanne

        And the HRM 2014/15 Budget and Business Plan (Approved) should hold more weight than a newspaper story, IMO** Operation Coordinator/Snow*** 2014-15 Budget – 13,775,800

        Not that $6,224,200 of tax payer money is a big deal.
        With that much snow expected I am glad i am in District 13 where snow clearing has been excellent all winter.

  • Roger W Nelson

    I’ve been shoveling my sidewalk at home and work all winter. Too bad I can’t bill for it 😉 God knows the city was more than happy to ‘bill’ me in the past if even 1 inch of ice and snow was left on the walk. Fortunately I’m young, strong and responsible. I can’t say the same for all the home owners on my street 🙁

  • Senior Citizen

    As seniors with health issues, we have paid at each storm for snow
    removal all winter. Each time the plow comes by, after we have paid to
    clear the driveway, and it fills in the driveway, we have to hire again
    to have it re-shoveled. . . Who should be accountable for these bills? Plows should have shovellers with the drivers to clear the driveways they fill in! Enough already!

  • Kes Morton

    Bright side – no need to go to the gym to work off those #stormchips since Mother Nature has planned my workout for today, tomorrow, Thursday…possibly Saturday….

  • Randy Gray

    I just finished digging out the drain again….and now there is 3 or 4 x’s more snow on it than when I started, with more to come. Hope we don’t get a lot of rain any time soon.


    Awesome initiative! Too bad it actually WAS this way not so many winters ago before Halifax South Downtown residents pushed the City to take over the “responsibility” of clearing the sidewalks…at a cost to us all. And it’s obviously NOT being done. Meh. I’m in the North End. And I don’t even have a sidewalk **raspberry** lol

    • My residents for the most part do not want and have never wanted sidewalk snow removal, and I have voted against it at every opportunity, and will continue to do so.

  • Rstull

    typical politician

    “Well Ashley you can blame right now, but that won’t help anyone TOMORROW when 30 more cm of snow comes down.”

    no mr “councillor”

    i will be blaming the council tomorrow too. an incompetent
    government that sets snow removal budgets ridiculously low and hires
    snow removers that couldnt move a sand castle and then gets on the web
    and the news telling people who PAID for the service that they should do
    it themselves.

    NO, i will not shovel the sidewalks, i am paying the city for that. and they are doing a horrible job of it.
    NO, i will not uncover the storm drains, i am paying halifax water for that (thanks city council).

    i AM interested in the council doing the job it is being paid to do instead of having to watch them on the news about how they should take sidewalk clearing away.

    why dont you just take everything away and still make us pay taxes.

    by the way, on the news……….steve murphy ran rings around his guest.

    • The majority of residents in D7 do not want this, and do not want to pay taxes for it.

      But that has nothing to do with the fact that tomorrow 30 cms is coming on top of 211 we have already gotten and I hope people do help shovel tomorrow!

      • Rstull

        the majority of other people do want it and understand that they have to pay taxes for it. D7 does not rule the city nor does its needs/wants. i dont want to pay taxes for that ridiculous stadium that the mayor mentions every once in awhile.

        time for the people of D7 to suck it up.
        i mean, thats what you are suggesting people do.

        • Rstull

          or perhaps they could have those areas of the city that have it pay an area rate. sort of like it used to be before the peninsula stole the idea.

    • LookUpAlways

      YES, I will shovel the sidewalks. I am paying the city for that, and I also understand that we have a set of circumstances requiring that we all pitch in.

      YES, I will uncover the storm drains, because the widow that lives across the street will have even more ice build-up in her driveway than she has now if it isn’t cleared.

      I AM interested in Council doing the job it is being paid to do, and I realize that part of their job is communicating with the public via the media.

      YES, I will pay my taxes with the knowledge that I pay for some things I don’t directly benefit from, because I am a member of a community, of a society.

      NO, I will NEVER be the type of person to have my hand out to the government for everything.

      YES, Rstull, I would even help you if you needed it.

      • Rstull

        the circumstances are that the city dropped and continues to drop the ball by accepting lowest bids. now they realized (as have most people) that blaming the company isnt going to work because the city are the ones that hired them.

        this isnt the entire council, its one member with narrow interests (witness his comment that the people of his district dont want the service and dont think they should have to pay the taxes for it), where are your glib comments over that one?

        if the entire council or a majority needed to communicate, they should do it through the mayor, other wise, they are made to look like ……………………………………….

        if the community or society wants a stadium then they can pay for it, but thats a whole entire other issue.

        i dont have my hand out to the government for everything, just what i am paying for them to do.

        i never asked for your help, and i already pitched in by paying my taxes and my water bill.

        halifax water can go pound sand.

        my driveway and most of the others on the street already have ice in them, a bit more isnt going to make them much worse.

        • LookUpAlways

          Waye Mason is not my Councillor, but I have never gotten the sense that his interests are narrow. He appears to want what is best for the City as a whole. Of course, he was elected in his District and has to be attentive to his constituents.

          You wouldn’t have to ask for my help, Rstull – I’d simply offer it. Or give you a leg up without you knowing. In spite of yourself.

          You could try standing down – exchange “being” right for “doing” right.

          • Rstull

            Best for the city as a whole?. i have nothing personal against Mr Mason but i must beg to differ. a good part of the council seems to think that the peninsula is the center of the universe. and the center is not the city as a whole?

            you have a very condescending manner in your writing and it comes across in spades. so please keep your “legs up” to yourself.

            AND, doing right comes from “being right”

            so plz explain how Mr Mason is doing right by voting against something that most people outside his district want. we had it here in dartmouth way before halifax and it was working fine. we’ll keep it thanks and the peninsula can find something else to go on about.

            stand down………do that and mr mayor will sneak that moronic stadium past us.

      • Bless you.

  • Flossie Trew

    “plows don’t work that well when there are five feet of snow on both
    sides of the sidewalk. There is no where to push the snow too!”

    Nor can I cannot push the snow anywhere — my car is marooned in my driveway since there is no where to put the snow behind it. I have a 30 foot frontage which is up to the top of my head. Under these conditions the 5 and 6 foot snowbanks need to be removed before I can do any more shoveling. To suggest otherwise is a bit of an insult.

    • Again, do what you can. Throwing snow up 5-7 feet is hard, I know, it took four of us to clear my driveway.

  • LookUpAlways

    We in Nova Scotia fancy ourselves as very kind and generous. Sometimes I think we aren’t, really. In rural Nova Scotia, you would not need to have a Councillor issue a call to action. People just do for others. My mother has had such kindness extended to her by her neighbours with snow removal, and just checking on her, and popping in for tea, etc. She’s a widow, but she doesn’t feel alone. Why can’t we all pull together instead of criticizing all the time?

    • Rstull

      because there is so much to criticize. your mother’s experiences are in a rural area. try that in certain quarters of this “city” and you would most likely wind up in an emergency ward. people in rural areas for the most part, dont have sidewalks that they have already paid someone else to clear, and then have a lousy job done of it.

      but, let me tell a story……………

      one day i heard a comment from a “citizen” after a cop was injured on the good old peninsula. that was the day that my hopes and wishes for a place like that where your very lucky (and i am sure very deserving) mother lives………….DIED. (the place, not your mother)

      since i heard that comment, i have lost ALL faith in humanity COMPLETELY.

      please do not ask, the comment and the circumstances surrounding it are explosive and it has been some time since it was uttered. AND it would be highly unsuitable for Mr Mason’s board.

      i will begin to clear the sidewalks but i will die before i help halifax water.

  • user xyyyz

    Do a “Mel Lastman” call in the Army. He did and he got all sorts of bodies on the job!
    Do a search for this headline “The Day Mel Lastman Called In The Army To Clear Snow”
    Have at ‘er!!

  • Zzooom

    I have been helping out by clearing the sidewalk. And digging ice rivers to the storm drains and digging out the storm drains. But when the dumb landscaping co that won the contract for the hood (ritchie – inglis) comes around with a mini tractor-plough two days after neighbours have cleared the sidewalk to almost clean or just ice and dumps EIGHT inches into the middle of the formerly snow cleared walk, it’ a failing grade and quite angering, esp after shovelling it clean. If the sidewalk has already been cleared, then maybe not make a mess of it to say ” you did your job within the 48 hour timeframe.” Just saying.

  • Gregory Johannsøn

    It’s ironic that you have the infrastructure to keep the roads in near-perfect condition yet expect pedestrians and wheelchair folk to fend for themselves. This winter Halifax has created two classes of citizens: drivers and pedestrians. (But who really cares about the poor and disabled, right?) Basically you’re propagating the bullshit idea that if you are a driver the government will tend to your transportation needs, but if you are a pedestrian you are up shit’s creek without a paddle. I’m all for contributing to the community, helping clear storm drains being one example. But when you are going to treat me like a lesser citizen because I can’t afford a car, you can go fuck yourself. I’ll be out shovelling snow onto the street tomorrow at Robie and Spring Garden as a show of civil disobedience for anyone that wants to join me.

    • LookUpAlways

      Not sure what city you are living in, but the roads are hardly in near-perfect condition. They are as ice-packed and rutted as the sidewalks. Many of us are both pedestrian and driver; each was as bad as the other.

    • People have also been clearing streets. It isn’t about what is right under normal circumstances, it is about doing what we can during a crisis. As a pedestrian and transit user myself I agree with you – under normal circumstances.

  • Carolyn Mandelker

    Thanks Waye. I agree this is the way to go in the short term. I think the council should also issue such a message asking citizens to band together on streets to dig out the storm drains. We are in for massive flooding when this all melts unless these are all clear.

  • disqus_h2kcvioiUv

    I want to know how you expect citizens to shovel snow when the banks are too high for the heavy equipment to move. Even before today’s storm the banks were over 6′ high. I physically can’t fling snow any higher. And now we have 10′ snow banks. We can’t go any higher. And 3′ of snow in the sidewalk (with 5-6″ of ice under all that snow). I have spent a total of 10 hours chipping ice from my sidewalk and street in the last week making it safe just to get a vehicle in and out of my driveway. The ice is over a foot deep on my street. I don’t mind doing my part but the city is not doing it’s part. Citizens are doing more than their part. Half of my street was out chipping ice off the sidewalk Saturday. These are people who have their own full time jobs too. The snow has not been properly cleaned on my street or sidewalk in over 4 weeks. I can count on one hand the number of times a plow or bobcat made a trip up my street in over a month. Before today the street was down to one lane and the sidewalk a mess. Now what. I think the city needs to wake up and call for help!

    • I hope everyone does what they can. Don’t do anything dangerous or risk hurting yourself.

  • A.Faulkner

    I think every little bit helps! Of course we couldn’t get through to the pavement or breakthrough some ice walls but we did our best .We shoveled out around our whole corner it felt great to be outside! As a pedestrian I appreciate any effort citizens and property owners make. Get out and move if you can it’s invigorating and satisfying.

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