Making the case for buying a snowblower

I wasn’t prepared for the snow that fell Saturday night nor for the filling in of my driveway by the plow early Monday morning.
I really had started enjoying this low snowfall winter.
I suppose I should welcome this snowfall knowing that come spring, much of it will make it into our steams and lakes and raise the water level.
In an average year, we can expect about 1.75 metres of snow in a winter and so far we are way below that amount.
I have mixed feelings about snow. A soft, gentle snowfall of large flakes on Christmas Eve makes the day perfect. A giant, blustery, bone-chilling snowfall anytime is unpleasant.
I get tired of throwing the snow on ever-higher piles.
My hope was that with little snow this winter, spring might arrive much earlier.
An early snow in November jump-starts the local economy. Once mid- to late January arrives, many put off making winter purchases.
This snow should be good for area businesses, just like the cold weather of last week was great for the automotive shops.
On Monday, I was just looking down the sidewalk at 7 a.m. and wondering why the sidewalk snowplow had not been down the street yet. It sometimes arrives before the grader.
Living on Second Street East with an elementary school only one block away, this section of sidewalk normally receives prompt attention.
Fort Frances council is looking for ways to reduce its Public Works budget. When I was on council more than 30 years ago, we ran into a sidewalk snow problem. The banks on either side of the sidewalk were too high for the plow to push the snow away.
As such, we had to go back to an old municipal bylaw that required citizens to clear the walks in front of their homes. It wasn’t popular but the citizens did respond and the municipal sidewalks were shovelled out.
Sidewalk cleaning always has been a discretionary council decision and Fort Frances council consistently has plowed sidewalks in winter unless extreme snowfalls made sidewalk cleaning impossible.
The cities of Waterloo and Kitchener, and several others across southern Ontario, require their citizens to clear their sidewalks in front of their home before 9 a.m. Failure results in a crew hired by the city showing up to do the snow removal and you are required to pay the bill.
The cost of the city crew is really expensive and homeowners jump on the snow quickly.
I have suggested this solution to several councillors and I suspect they have debated the merits of the idea. As I surveyed the sidewalks, I wondered if they had made a decision to eliminate sidewalk snowplowing.
But no, the snowplow made its way past my home later Monday morning.
There have been times when I have hand-shovelled the whole sidewalk. I did it to show off that I could shovel all that white powder and at the end I felt really proud of myself, though my rush to heavy lifting and snow throwing usually left me a little sore the next day.
Today, I probably could still clean all the municipal walks around my home, but I am more inclined to let the town do the cleaning. Some might call that getting old.
I live on a corner lot and the total length of sidewalk I would end up shovelling is more than 200 feet. And if it became a requirement to shovel that amount of sidewalk, I already have made the decision that it will be done with a snowblower.
I’ve already chosen the size. It would have to be a minimum of 26 inches wide so that making two passes down the sidewalk, the sidewalk would be clean. I also like the idea of electric start.
And I have formulated all the reasons to make the case to my wife on why we need a snowblower.
The snow and clean-up probably is good news for those businesses selling shovels, snowmachines, and snowblowers, and those making repairs to snow blowers.
They really can do with some winter weather.

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