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Shelve sidewalk plowing

About one month from now Guelph boulevards will be littered with Christmas trees awaiting pickup from the city. Funny thing, that. In all likelihood there won’t be Christmas tree pickup, since it’s on the chopping block Wednesday during budget deliberations.
More often than not I can anticipate issues that are going to flare. I thought for sure people would be up in arms that they will be responsible for disposing of their tired old trees. But nary a peep. Perhaps some people don’t realize it yet, but come post-Christmas there will be a hue and cry about the lost service.
Spent Christmas trees blowing down city streets like tumbleweed is an annual problem. I think it will be an even bigger problem this coming new year.
• • •
There was never any doubt there would be lots of complaints about the possible loss of the city sidewalk plowing program. Like Christmas itself, it’s been a tradition in recent years to eye axing this program, but to pull back from actually doing the deed.
This year, though, council seems quite earnest about ditching it. It will be interesting to see if councillors have the collective backbone Wednesday and stick with doing away with it. Or, in the name of political expediency, will they bow to public pressure and maintain the program?
Personally, I think the city plowing our sidewalks is a luxurious waste of money. Whenever I see the mini-plows chugging throughout the city every winter, I see dollar signs. There’s the cost of running the plowing units and there’s the cost of manning them.
I am also at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to my residential block’s sidewalks getting plowed. By the time they hit my street, more often than not snow has thawed, frozen, thawed and frozen again. Often the city doesn’t plow, it does a drive-by dusting of sand on stretches of ice. It’s like a make-work project. Quite useless, really.
The program is a waste of money and certainly not an essential service, as some would argue. Over hill and dale I have asked if other municipalities offer this service and have heard of none. As for the needs of seniors and the infirm, surely they can be tended to by family, neighbours or the Snow Angels program. After all, were we not recently deemed Canada’s most caring community?
• • •
As with most budget nights, there is always a surprise or two. More often than not, a boodle of cash is somehow found that saves the day. Okay, not saves the day but keeps tax increases within a reasonable distance of the proposed three per cent that was proposed at the outset.
When it’s all over, city hall will pat itself on the back for a job well done. Others will scream, like they always do, that the tax hike is too high. Others, who have no collective voice, will feel the pinch.
Then there are those who pay the whole budget process no never-mind. Won’t they be surprised when no one picks up their Christmas trees this coming January?

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