LETTER: To sand, or not to sand

Walking on the Harrop-Procter Road, after plowing and “sanding” late last week where we could realize there was no sand on the glaring ice.

After taking a walk on the Harrop-Procter Road, after  plowing and “sanding” late last week where we could realize there was no sand on the glaring ice over the deceptively pavement-looking tread areas (and we had to walk on the shoulder), I now echo the views expressed about the outrageous deterioration in winter road maintenance referred to in a recent letter to you (“Why aren’t the highways sanded?” Letters. December 25).

I will share a story which was reported to me confidentially. After some thought, I have realized that it could be made public without breaching its source and that this sharing would be in the spirit of the individual’s wishes.

A few years ago at one of my practice locations, I saw a very distressed driver of one of those trucks belonging to our regional outsourced highway maintenance contractor.

He shared with me his nightmares and great anxiety about literally not being allowed to sand stretches of road that with years of experience, he knew to be treacherous and slippery.

He explained that no matter how icy or treacherous, he was constrained from sanding areas that were not within the contract minimum degree of curve or slope.

He worried about friends and neighbours coming to harm and felt entirely powerless and a loss of meaning or pride in his work but also felt stuck needing to pay for his mortgage. If we had some journalism, this contract language would be disclosed and more public.

In my previous practice pattern I worked in Castlegar amongst other locations once a week and remember clearly the many bad winter condition days seeing cars in the ditches on the way there and to my disbelief the roads still not sanded at the end of the day, with new cars, some rolled over, on my way back.

The $320,000 electronic sign recently installed at Beasley Bluffs telling us to put on our winter tires, instead of spent maintaining our roads would be hilarious if it weren’t such a caricature of what we have accepted, because we are too busy to get involved politically.

We have “death from a thousand cuts” in every sector with less and less front-line service but more “smart” managerial spin.

This is occurring without any policy debates or media coverage. However we will not vote for politicians that are honest about the difficult choices that need to be made.

We have managers getting bonuses for meeting budget targets, not service ones, as the corporate-style state continues to evolve in order to “serve us better”;  our phone calls are clearly very important to them but there are unaccustomed call volumes and we can be so well served on a website instead.

 

Andre Piver MD,

Nelson

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