Homeless in Vancouver: What to say about the snow after three days—except go away!

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      It’s Tuesday evening: day three of Vancouver’s winter wonderland (February 12th) and I for one wish that the snow on the side streets was wearing as thin as the novelty of the snow itself.

      Instead, more of the stuff is falling!

      It’s reportedly 0° C here at 9:30 p.m. (“but it feels like -4°”) and we may be looking at anther two to four centimetres of snow. Sigh.

      The snow leaves me cold but you know what? It’s a dry cold!

      Sunday was cold and the snow was dry and fluffy. Monday was warmer and the snow was wetter and sticky. Beyond that, it all got in my way.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      I’m sure that I speak for many Vancouverites (who are not small children, dogs, or snow plow operators) when I say that the great wonder I initially felt regarding the snow has largely evaporated.

      Now I just wonder when it will all go away.

      Shovel, shovel, toil and trouble. Some of my wasted effort Monday at 11:26 p.m. to create an exit strategy for the morning.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      This morning, I was so embarrassed. I had little choice but to wait on a building manager to finish shovelling the walk in front of their particular condo. This was because I simply could not get the traction in the snow necessary to wrangle my bike and trailer up the slope leading from the parkade where I sleep.

      I’m sure that my face was as red as the berries growing on the hedge that lined the sidewalk.

      Berries seen Tuesday morning as I was hauling my bike and trailer up a freshly-shovelled sidewalk.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      I had actually anticipated this traction problem (not for the first time, during a snowfall). Over six hours earlier—before I went to bed—I had “shovelled” this half-block stretch of sidewalk using slabs of cardboard that I pulled out of a nearby paper recycling bin.

      However, while I slept, enough new snow fell to wipe out my preparations. Oh well. Thank goodness the manager was out there shovelling.

      Someone running a snowblower off Alder Street  on Tuesday at 7:58 a.m.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      Right here I want to say how grateful I am to all the property owners and managers who are getting out and shovelling snow by 7 a.m.

      So far, the willingness demonstrated by Fairview properties along my travel path to clear their sidewalks early and often has been a welcome and significant offset to the inconvenience of the snow.

      Clear sidewalks on the northeast corner of West Broadway and Alder on Monday at 7:34 a.m.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      For example, both Monday and Tuesday, three of the four corners at the intersection of West Broadway and Alder Street were generously shovelled by 7:30 a.m. I do not recall that being the case during the snowfalls of 2016-17.

      City of Vancouver plow truck on a Fairview side street Monday at 10:52 p.m.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      I can also not fault the street care of the City of Vancouver, at least so far as the streets of Fairview and Mount Pleasant that I am regularly familiar with are concerned. The major arterial roads, such as West Broadway, are being well looked after and, to a significant lesser degree, so are the side streets.

      The back alleys, however—in my limited experience—are being left to look after themselves. This has been standard practice for many decades but I believe that the standard for plowing or not plowing back alleys should probably change.

      And I do not expect the city to plow the alleys simply for the benefit of binners and Dumpster divers and homeless people such as myself. I am also thinking of the ever-growing number of renters who are living in alley-facing detached rental units—so-called laneway housing.

      Apropos of nothing, an artful smear of winter frosting seen on a van in the 1400 block of West Broadway on Monday afternoon.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      It looks like Vancouver may get a brief respite from the snow by Thursday, or Friday, in the form of warmer daytime temperatures and rain. But whether rain comes and washes away the snow, or just makes an icy, slushy mess that can be flash frozen by a new blast of arctic cold, I cannot begin to predict.

      I will say, however, that this most recent experience with snow reminds me why I will never use the term “snowflake” as a personal insult, as the alt right crowd (i.e. Donald Trump supporters) does.

      They do this in order to imply that someone is emotional and/or overly sensitive and therefore politically naive and ineffective. As usual, they have it all wrong.

      Individual snowflakes may be delicate and they will melt at the merest touch. But collectively, snowflakes (like people) are anything but weak; they can, in fact, be annoyingly formidable, if not unstoppable! 

      Another look at the snow berries to remind everyone that winter is just a phase and spring is coming.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine
      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer. Follow Stanley on Twitter at @sqwabb.

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