It seems the snow brings out the best in Canadians

Climate change? I’m not totally there yet

Canada has winter – everywhere. Winter is a season in Canada – and sometimes it can be severe!

B.C., one of Canada’s largest provinces, has many forms of localized winter weather – and when it comes everybody wants to comment on that winter weather – with bullets!

In the north and on the inland coast – at the head of the Douglas Channel – Kitimat’s winters tend to run the gamut from mild, though bearable to sometimes unpredictably harsh, snowy and c-c-cold!

In my 38 years in Kitimat I have shovelled and snow-blown my full, fair share of the sometimes fluffy, sometimes wet and heavy white stuff.

But – really, we do prepare for winter here. We specially equip our vehicles to handle icy, snowy slippery winter road conditions. We stock salt and shovels near the house steps, doors and walkways.

Local news tends to do a decent job covering any exceptional and newsworthy winter events in the region. We still have numerous occasional accidents and incidents on our roads.

But, I think it is also true that we all live with some of the irritation that is engendered in our senses, when the big news centres like Vancouver and our noble capital, Victoria, are hit with winter snow and windstorms – and to see how they handle the virtually-certain home and traffic-related chaos that comes with it.

And the TV time turned over to coverage of weather events that seems, well, less-than-exceptional to us, also seems exaggerated and a waste of valuable screen time.

The news gatherers are out in the wind and snow to show their grit in presenting the facts with a personally enduring touch. But this is not a freak occurrence like last week’s snow in Hawaii!

As a small low-key city with possibly one of the very best snow clearing records and systems in the north, we tend to scoff (a little, at least) at watching many drivers in the lower mainland, presumably with no winter tires or more likely worn summer tires , slipping and sliding on icy gradients that we would expect the roll through with ease. They wind up in the ditches, rolled over, banging into one another with no apparent control.

Last week’s heavier-than-usual snow storms and severe windstorms, downing trees and bringing power outages, ferry and transit disruptions, airport and train delays, were worse than usual – with record-breaking volumes of snow (30-40 cm instead of the more normal 3-10 cm).

But enough of what we all know about and a bit more about things we didn’t likely hear a lot about. Everybody seemed to pitch in to help, just as they do here – and that may seem unusual, but I suspect is actually more normal with Canadian neighbours in both larger and smaller communities.

The Vancouver Island Toyota 4×4 Club, for example, was out offering free rides to any hospital staff who are unable to make it into work because of the snow. Jacob Vanoverschot, a spokesperson for the club, said he had personally given rides to 21 nurses in the past couple of days. Kudos – good thinking.

Despite the snowfall, there were concerned volunteers searching dangerous mountain territory for a missing ranch manager in the Cariboo.

There were people in Vancouver and Victoria shovelling not just their own driveways, but a couple of hundred yards of neighbourhood sidewalks as well so that elderly neighbours could walk to local stores – because the city can’t handle the volume of areas needing clearing.

There were neighbours and friends pulling people out of ditches because they just want to help. In traffic, there were people pushing and pulling cars out of snowdrifts – helping one another get traction.

This is not the big city reputation – but this exceptional winter brought the best out of people despite the city’s inability to keep the streets clear, especially smaller back streets and sidewalks.

As I said winter is a yearly occurrence but magnified by the level of snowfall and colder temperatures in areas not used to it? Climate change?

I’m not totally there yet – I’ve read and read – but I’m having trouble getting past what I think of as long term climate evolution which is only marginally different from “change.”

And I’m totally unconvinced that man-made carbon pollution is the sole cause or that a tax on everything purchased by the consumer in B.C. or other provinces across Canada will assure everyone or anyone that the principal polluters will change their ways.

I’m not alone – hence the furor. Some “environmentalists” seem to insist that a major costly downward change in emissions in B.C. through cancellation of fossil fuel projects, oil and gas, in particular, will mitigate immensely higher carbon emissions in China, India, Pakistan and other countries and will help to slow climate change and save the world.

I just can’t get my head around that.

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