Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo cyclist plows Laurel Trail after LRT construction foils city

A University of Waterloo student spent over an hour shovelling snow on a 300 m stretch of Laurel Trail last week, after growing frustrated by the quality of winter maintenance on the path this season.
Narayan Donaldson, a University of Waterloo student, took this photo of Laurel Trail before he started to shovelling on a sunny February day. (Narayan Donaldson/Waterloo Bikes)

A University of Waterloo student spent over an hour shovelling snow on a 300-metre stretch of Laurel Trail last week after growing frustrated by the quality of winter maintenance on the path this season.

Narayan Donaldson lives north of Uptown Waterloo, and has been biking up Laurel Trail from Seagram Drive to University Avenue on a regular basis for several years. He says the trail, which stretches more than eight kilometres through Uptown Waterloo to Columbia Lake, was properly shovelled in winters past.

"But this year it’s been pretty iffy,” said Donaldson in an interview with CBC News. "There’s usually a layer of rough snow that’s very difficult to ride a bicycle across."

Donaldson said he broke out his snow shovel and began clearing the path himself last week. It was a warm day, and much of the snow had turned to slush.

"At least 50 people walked by while I was clearing," said Donaldson. "Most of the time they just said, 'oh, cool' or 'thank you' or gave me a lot of weird looks actually."

Eckhard Pastrik, director of the environment and parks at the city, said LRT construction on University Avenue is limiting access to that stretch of Laurel Trail.

The snow removal trucks that plow three-metre wide city pathways are not able to get in, which means the city needs to use trackless vehicles, which are usually used for sidewalks.

"Our [trackless vehicles] are extremely busy and we have to actually go up and down that trail twice," said Pastrik.

Pastrik said trackless vehicles tend to leave a small bit of snow behind, and are used in plowing about 100 kilometres of sidewalk across the city. He added that clearing that portion of the trail shouldn't be a problem in future winters.

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