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Snow-clearing hyperbole

I think Joanne Seiff is exaggerating somewhat in her Dec. 14 column, Winter driving in Winnipeg a luge sport, when she states that last year her household was kept awake and serenaded by bulldozers as they danced on her corner after every snowfall.

As a longtime resident of Winnipeg, I have never seen the city employ bulldozers in its snow-clearing activity. I have seen graders, front-end loaders, truck plows, dump trucks, sanding trucks and perhaps other equipment, but never a bulldozer.

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Perhaps when she next sees a bulldozer involved in snow clearing, she can shoot some video on her cellphone to show us the aggressive manner in which our city approaches snow clearing.

She further states this appears to occur after every snowfall. Well, I have never seen the City of Winnipeg clear our snowfall "after every snowfall" but only after an accumulation of a certain amount of snow. Because she is an author, I would have expected more accurate writing from Seiff.




While no one should necessarily dispute Joanne Seiff's claim that cities such as Buffalo and Ithaca, N.Y., do a better job of snow-clearing than Winnipeg, she's overlooking an important fact.

Even though those two cities receive more snow, their winter temperatures are also much milder. Buffalo and Ithaca get the benefit of frequent natural daytime melting, whereas we get only a limited amount, unless the mercury rises high enough to activate the salt-sand mixture laid down at intersections. And during prolonged cold snaps like the one we're currently in, there's no melting at all.

So a more valid comparison of snow-clearing operations would be between Winnipeg and other Canadian Prairie cities, because upstate New York's climate resembles that of southern Ontario.




I use a power wheelchair and I, too, have been affected by the lack of effective snow clearing, especially on sidewalks, bus stops, curb cuts (which often have a two- to three-inch layer of snow on them) and roadways (specifically Portage Avenue). If the city can "juggle" funds to repair the Sherbrook Pool, then surely it can find a way to ensure that plowing our sidewalks and roadways is done in a way so citizens with and without cars can get around safely on winter streets.

Maybe next year they'll start clearing as soon as the snow begins to fall, like they do in other large cities.




As a transplant from Montreal four years ago, I think Joanne Seiff was too nice in her comments. I almost lost my new car to a spinning Toyota doing a 360 while I waited for a left turn off Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

Not clearing the ice from turning lanes seems negligent in my opinion. How can Tourism Manitoba expect winter tourism? One encounter with the roads here would leave, if anything, a negative impression. Apparently the heart beats, but the brain is dead.




Solve issue with bus pass

So the police union is concerned about secure parking at the new headquarters on Graham Avenue (Police fear for safety at old, new HQs, Dec. 16)? Well, I work downtown, and they can do what I have done all my working life -- use Winnipeg Transit.

The new HQ is on the busiest transit route, Graham Avenue. Also, all uniformed and plainclothes officers are entitled to free transit access, which would also assist in having on-board security, apparently an issue with driver assaults and bad behaviour on buses.

As a retired transit operator, I do not understand the city's reluctance to encourage more use of a city asset (Transit) by a large number of necessary city employees (police officers).

So let us double the parking rates, and advise officers of the free service available. It would solve any parking issues and assist transit security issues.




String of surpluses

Your Dec. 14 story on Manitoba Opera, Singing in debt, states the company has only "ended a season in the black six times." It might be better stated that between 1972 and 2000, there were only six years when the company did not carry an accumulated debt and therefore had a positive balance sheet.

Since 2001, we have posted operating surpluses in 12 of 13 years. However, MO still carried accumulated debt from those years prior to 2000 and has a negative balance sheet. This is the difference between deficit and debt.

This recent string of operational surpluses has never before been achieved in the company's history, and represents one of the best financial records in the opera sector in North America at this time. These successive operational surpluses have helped to reduce our debt to $59,000 today from $654,000 in 2000, as the article states.

The programming of Don Pasquale was not meant to "lasso large audiences." Don Pasquale was conservatively budgeted to achieve an attendance of 60 per cent. It was included in the programming this year, as a means to manage risk on the expense side of the budget. It is a small production by opera standards and, therefore, cost relatively less to produce than Aida, for example.




A powerful speech

Re: Obama electrifies service (Dec. 12). Although all of the tributes and speeches were very meaningful, I have never heard a more powerful speech than that given by U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Its content and delivery were the best I have ever heard, and I suggest it is the most touching many of us will ever hear.

Well deserved, Madiba, and well done, Mr. President.




Incentive to reform CPP

Re: CPP meeting ends in verbal blows, accusations (Dec. 17). I would be willing to bet that were the federal finance minister and the provincial finance ministers entitled to the same pension plans as average Canadians, they would be far more willing to ensure that those pension plans would not leave them living in poverty.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2013 A8

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