In the 30 years Ive had the privilege to reside in this valley, I have voiced my opinion in the pages of this paper only once before. The subject was the same and was in response to the criticism regarding the maintenance of our highways and side roads.
I drive a plow truck and have done so for the past 15 winters. Ive seen some disturbing things over the years but a recent occurrence has left me shaking my head and questioning why I bother.
While plowing a residential neighborhood I drove past a home owner who was standing in his driveway and aggressively giving me the middle finger. He then chased me in his Hummer and verbally and physically assaulted me. Why? Because I left a line of snow in his driveway. Exactly the same as every other driveway. My reaction, by the way, was also less than commendable.
I was not born in Canada however there is nowhere else I would rather live and I am fiercely proud of my citizenship. What attracted me most about this country was the friendly, easy going attitude of the people who live through long, tough winters yet still have a smile, a kind word and embrace shoveling a bit of snow. Thank goodness there are still plenty of you out there.
When I read the numerous harsh comments that surface on social media almost every time it snows lately, I wonder what some people expect.
Its winter!!! You need to slow down and drive based on the conditions you encounter when you walk out the door on any given day. Just because the speed signs say 100 kilometres per hour does not mean you can expect to drive that fast all year round. When it snows there will be a period of time before we can get the highway back in shape or get to your residential address and, yes, the snow has to go somewhere and some of it will end up in your driveway. However, no matter how many trucks and drivers are available they cannot be everywhere at once.
Every road in this valley has a designation and is serviced in the order of its priority. There are a set of standards that are available to the public where you will find your road and the level of service you can expect. You might be very surprised. The standards were agreed upon by the Ministry of Transportation, part of your elected government, when the contract was given to the present maintenance company. At least 99 per cent of the time your service is well above these standards. There was a community awareness meeting held in Invermere in the fall and only two people bothered to attend, ask questions and become more informed. I am not writing this letter in support of either the government or the contractor, as there can always be improvements.
I do however take exception to some of the abuse that is directed towards the guys in the trucks that are out there in some of the most awful conditions imaginable. They all have families that live here and travel around these roads just like you.
The majority of them truly care and do the best job humanly possible with the equipment they have to work with. One things for sure, they dont need nor deserve the constant stream of negativity and criticism coming from some of you because you cant get somewhere fast enough or you need to go outside in the fresh air and do a bit of exercise with a shovel. One guy recently thought it was acceptable to yell and swear at my supervisor because he had to start his snow blower to clear his driveway.
Regardless of the amount of manpower and equipment available sometimes the elements will conspire against and overwhelm any efforts for a period of time. Then its up to you, the general public, to be thoughtful, patient and have some consideration and understanding.
To those individuals who cannot grasp this concept, your attitudes and misplaced sense of entitlement is appalling. Before you feel so free to criticize why not spend some time to become more informed? Unless, of course, youre in too much of a hurry to be somewhere else.