Excavating Water with Fossil Fuels: Neither Green or Sustainable3
By cshackle on Jan 05 2008, last modified on Dec 20 2008.
Having been in and around Whistler on and off since its very early days, I can certainly remember the times of little or no mechanized snow removal. Admittedly, getting around was a little slower and one did have to get out the shovel from time to time - but the air was cleaner and life was a heck…
Having been in and around Whistler on and off since its very early days, I can certainly remember the times of little or no mechanized snow removal. Admittedly, getting around was a little slower and one did have to get out the shovel from time to time - but the air was cleaner and life was a heck of a lot quieter too!
These days it all begins at about 6:00am. I swear my health is being adversely affected by the endless grind of diesel engines and the rankling chirp, chirp, chirp of the backup chimes. For hours after even a few cms of new snow, the plows and the excavators are going full-on. I'll bet that Whistler has more snow removal equipment per capita than anywhere else on earth!
Now I own a tractor and even when it is not under a major load, it burns about 5 gallons per hour of diesel fuel. That translates to just under $25/hour in fuel cost alone to operate the thing. I'll bet that many of these front-end loaders and plows burn considerably more than that. And for what purpose? To move water around!
At the end of the day there is really no reason that the roads need to be plowed and salted down to pavement each and every time a few flakes fall. Doing so is neither environmentally conscious or responsible.
What about all the heated walkways around town? I don't know how much electricity they consume but it seems wasteful to me.
This is Whistler. Whistler gets a lot of snow and that means walking through snow and over ice. A bit of sense and proper footwear and it shouldn't be a big deal.
Or maybe I'm just becoming a cranky old man.
Cranky old man Mu? I'd consider a tourist suing some local Property Management company following a slip and fall on some of this water we're talking about (whilst wearing high heals and a party frock) cranky before you anytime!
Yes - I agree, there is a compromise which should be found. Part owner of a manual snow removal business (Whistler's Snow Masters), I sure as hell know many a delightful challenge the business can be. Continual 'Plow-Ups' (ya know the stumps of snow left for u to play in at the end of your driveway) which are left for us to clear by hand make for questionable economic sensibility... the environmental detriment of such automated services - plows and heat traces is worrisome indeed... I could go on. And on.. and - alas I won't for tonight it's gonna snow... so tomorrow there will be work - again!
Though it has to be said that for a town thats built such world renown, we cannot ignore the perspective of the tourist.
Perhaps if our service contracts more earnestly protected snow removal/property management businesses from liability following accidents due to pavement/road conditions, we would not be running our businesses with the fear of liability that presently concerns us. Perhaps then the plow trucks could let go a sweep or two.
Agreed snow removal can seem such overkill - yet it has become the 'expected'. Imagine "TOURISTS: Use Pavements, Walkways and Stairs at own Risk!" at the base of 'Welcome to Whistler' as you wonder into town - yeh, right.
Until expectations of tourists become re-educated and shifted, or until we can generate new ideas for a different approach, I see little that can be done. We have to move around in this town right now - our local economy depends on it. Store fronts have to be cleared so they can open for business and people need to get around.
What then? What solutions to be found?
I think the underlying problem here is that people have been programmed to be afraid all the time; frightened people are easier to control and manipulate. From that comes an obsession with safety --everything must be safe for enough for a one year old child--and out of control liability.
If you slip and fall, it must be someone else's fault because the world is supposed to completely safe.
If you smoke and get cancer, sue the tobacco companies for selling you a product that will kill you during normal use even though you should know better.
If you drink at a bar and kill someone on the drive home, it is the bar's fault for letting you get drunk.
If your child breaks their leg playing at a construction site, sue the developer and the contractors for not making the site an impregnable fortress guarded by a battalion of security guards.
Disclaimers on everything. Choking hazard warnings on plastic bags. Nonsense.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Or did we ever have such a thing?
Life is a dangerous endeavor that kills us all in the end.
Are we not adults?
Lest u be accused of insanity... i care to intervene so argument could be made otherwise.
What I find amusing is the hypocricy of 'capitalist society'. For society that promotes democracy (freedom of rights, the individuals say...), does this not insinuate a certain trust in an individuals affair with accountability?
Seems this ain't a 2-way street. Here goes on the battle of wits... the game in the maze of 'civilised society. Say no more. For now.
You forgot to state an assumption here. You're assuming that this promotion of democracy and individual rights is sincere and honest rather than just for show. I don't think the powers that be are all that sincere about rights and democracy unless you're one of the right people.
If we truly want to become the showcase to the world in the area of sustainability, why are not ALL municipal vehicles hybrids and/or Smart cars.
I can't believe that there is no where in the world that doesn't have vehicles that are more environmentally friendly than our snow removal diesels.
Hundreds of thousands of Whistler tax payer dollars have been spent in the area of sustainability and hundreds more are about to be spent on a new Centre specifically designed for the study of sustainability (mind you to be build on a site after chopping down hundreds of perfectly majestic trees in the village core....but don't get me started on that one !)
So my question remains if we talk the talk, why don't we walk the walk, other than a few buildings with grass growing on them????
Electric vehicle/hybrids would provide a terrific visual for all to see that we are indeed serious about sustainability !
Electric would probably work great for snow removal. This mining truck has an electric drive system (powered by diesel but batteries would probably do for moving around Whistler).
Add a bit of geothermal to produce the electricity and you might have something.
OTOH, I'm not a power engineer so I don't know all the issues. OTOOH, yesterday's impossible feats have become tomorrow's commonplace boring technology over and over again throughout human history.
As a tourist to Whistler (day use only), I really appreciate the clear roads and lack of danger when driving to and fro. Living in Vancouver and putting up with the total absence of snow removal is not pleasant. The fear of other drivers who know nothing of snow and how to drive safely, is truly overwhelming.
What is that.....the sound of snowplows, hooray! I love them. That noise is music to my white knuckles and knotted back.
Trusting u don't wear high heels Mark, I get your point! Perhaps, however, we should have a Park n Ride somewhere - might come in useful especially for 2010.
Public Transit in Whistler such a no-brainer (ie frequent, easy to use)... perhaps the funds could then be used for Whistler Transit to help the bus shortage crisis?
Thinking somewhere between Squamish and Whistler... where the slush gets serious... Council, whadda ya say?