So, Ottawa had a full day of cold, wet, blowy snow yesterday. It started some time during the night and never stopped.
Leading the radio’s newscast first thing in the morning was the expected announcement that no school buses would be running anywhere in the Ottawa area.
As usual, however, all schools were open and teachers, librarians, custodians and other school staff along with non-bussing students were expected to be at school.
So, the buses are off the road because of unsafe, hazardous road conditions that make travelling risky, but everyone not taking a school bus has to take on that risk?
Where did this policy come from that Ottawa schools will never close? The policy also seems to extend to workplaces. My workplace has never closed in living memory of anyone I work with.
Is there some sort of bet on with Calgary to see which city is more macho or something?
In Halifax, they closed up the whole town whenever the weather was bad or even threatened to get bad. Schools closed, government offices closed, most businesses closed and the buses stopped running. Halifax city hall’s thinking was to just get as many people as possible off the streets so the roadways could be cleared quickly. They also reckoned that with people staying home, emergency crews could spend their time addressing real emergencies instead of spending all their time digging yet another car or bus out of a snow bank or responding to weather-related traffic accidents.
I was speaking with a teacher today and she said Ottawa’s “we never close” policy was for economic reasons – that if everyone stayed home, the city would lose too much money. I don’t know if she was speculating or had some inside information. Mainly, she was royally pissed at having to spend hours getting to school in the morning when only a handful of kids would be there and no real school work could be conducted anyway. She basically spent the day babysitting. Then she had to stand around for more hours in the afternoon waiting for buses that never came because OC Transpo buses can’t make it up even the slightest grade when the roads are slippery with snow because they have no snow tires.***
Other cities close schools and businesses and even suspend public transportation services when weather conditions get bad. Why not Ottawa? Does anyone know?
I mean, gee willikers, Snow Days are a tradition. An unexpected treat to be anticipated and savoured — a little bonus for living in a climate like this.
*** Note: Though there are lots of delays and buses running off the road during winter storms, I must give kudos to the intrepid drivers who manage to handle those big, tractionless vehicles and keep so many of them moving. Especially since they didn’t get a lot of winter driving practice in last year – Zing.