Photo by Kyle West

Following recent snowstorms that deposited as much as 40 cm onto Hamilton streets, some Hamilton residents are using social media to bring attention to the issue of snow-covered residential sidewalks.

Currently, residents are expected to clear snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a “snow event.” If residents fail to comply, the city will issue a 24-hour “Notice to Comply,” followed by possible inspection and a contracting fee for the homeowner.

However, residents say both residential and city sidewalks are still not being cleared, either by residents or by the city.

The Disability Justice Network of Ontario has encouraged residents to participate in the “Snow and Tell” campaign by tweeting out pictures of snow or ice-covered roads and sidewalks using the hashtag #AODAfail, referring to the Accessibility for Ontarians for Disabilities Act.

https://twitter.com/VicBick/status/1087879002092646401

McMaster student and local community organizer Sophie Geffros supports the campaigns and says it a serious issue of accessibility and justice.

Geffros uses a wheelchair and knows how especially difficult it can be for those who use mobility devices to navigate through snow-covered streets.

“It's people who use mobility devices. It's people with strollers. And it's older folks. People end up on the street. If you go on any street after a major storm, you'll see people in wheelchairs and with buggies on the street with cars because the sidewalks just aren't clear,” Geffros said.

https://twitter.com/sgeffros/status/1087384392866123778

Snow-covered sidewalks also affect the ability for people, especially those who use mobility devices, to access public transit.

“Even when snow has been cleared, often times when it gets cleared, it gets piled on curb cuts and piled near bus stops and all these places that are that are vital to people with disabilities,” Geffros said.

https://twitter.com/craig_burley/status/1088798476081741824

Geffros sees the need for clearing sidewalks as non-negotiable.

“By treating our sidewalk network as not a network but hundreds of individual tiny chunks of sidewalk, it means that if there's a breakdown at any point in that network, I can't get around,” Geffros said. “If every single sidewalk on my street is shoveled but one isn't, I can't use that entire sidewalk. We need to think of it as a vital service in the same way that we think of road snow clearance as a vital service.”

Public awareness about the issue may push city council.

Some councillors have expressed support for a city-run snow clearing service, including Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann.

I just don’t find it all that complicated. Cities are for people. It is in our best interest, financial and otherwise, to plow sidewalks. It’s also a matter of justice. I await the city manager’s report and ensuing debate

— Maureen Wilson (She / Her) (@ward1wilson) January 29, 2019

A city council report issued in 2014 stated that a 34 dollar annual increase in tax for each homeowner would be enough to fund sidewalk snow-clearing.

Recently, Wilson requested the city council to issue a new report on the potential costs of funding snow-clearing service.

Geffros sees potential for the current discourse to open up to further discussions on other issues of accessibility and social justice.

Hamilton’s operating budget will likely be finalized around April. Until then, Geffros and other Hamilton residents will continue to speak out on the issue.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Kashyap Patel

The safety and wellbeing of the student population should be the top priority of any respectable university. On Jan. 29, McMaster University chose to prioritize profits over the safety of their students.

Despite heavy snowfall and icy conditions, McMaster remained open because “crews [had] spent the night clearing snow and cleaning walkways.” The university simply advised their students to take care when travelling to campus.  

Crews have spent the night clearing snow and cleaning walkways. The University will open for classes this morning and all events and activities will take place as scheduled. Please take care travelling to campus.

— McMaster University (@McMasterU) January 29, 2019

McMaster’s Storm Emergency policy states that the university will be closed “when severe weather poses a danger to students, staff and faculty while on campus or if the weather would prevent large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes.”

For students living on-campus, the inclement weather did not pose as serious of a concern. However, for students and staff who live off-campus and commute, this decision put their safety at risk as roads and pathways leading to the campus were not adequately cleared.

In the opinion of many students on social media, the cancellation of classes should have been deemed a necessity. Students used the closure of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board schools, which are located in the same area as McMaster, to support their views.

Due to the inclement weather, all schools and administrative buildings are closed and transportation is cancelled today, Jan 29. All exams scheduled for today will be written tomorrow, Jan 30.

Enjoy the snow day! ❄️ pic.twitter.com/WpmHYJnFAD

— HWDSB (@HWDSB) January 29, 2019

Many students could not make it to campus due to Go bus cancellations and delays. The university clearly overlooked these legitimate concerns despite the potential negative impacts on students’ academic standings.

This incident begs the question: does McMaster value profits over the safety of its students? Given this instance, I believe the answer is yes. This decision was careless and irresponsible considering that most students attending McMaster either commute or live off-campus. These severe weather conditions also made it impossible for students using accessibility devices to safely reach campus.

Furthermore, many students that braved the conditions and commuted to campus found out that their instructors had cancelled their classes. The lack of coordination between the university and its faculty led to students unnecessarily putting their safety at risk.

Students also pointed out that several walkways on-campus were not cleared even though the university claimed otherwise. McMaster should be more truthful about the statements they disseminate to the public. Students use this information to make decisions about their commute and how they navigate the campus in a safe manner.

https://twitter.com/obeng_lily/status/1090300759802109952

It is difficult to pinpoint what sources of information the university used to inform their decision. The weather forecast predicted a snow storm at approximately 4 p.m. the day prior. The local facilities in Hamilton such as the YMCA and public libraries were also closing for the day. Buses and trains were also delayed or canceled in several locations throughout the southern Ontario area.

McMaster University should take a multi-faceted approach when making weather-related closure decisions. Transportation, safety and the effectiveness of the clearing crew needs to be evaluated before making a decision that can impact the safety of thousands.

Student safety should be of paramount importance to educational institutions. There seems to be a disconnect between McMaster and its students regarding the implementation of the inclement weather policy.

McMaster should re-evaluate the actions it took on Jan. 29 and learn from this incident. Students need to know that their safety is valued and plays a key role in the decision-making processes of their university.

 

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Holiday travel plans can bring us together with family and loved ones. However, because winter weather in Canada can be extreme, it’s important to take a few precautions before you hit the road so you arrive safe and sound.

The York Regional Police, based just north of Toronto, have provided a few tips to help keep you safe on the roads.

Traveling in a winter wonderland

Weathering the conditions: Double-check the weather conditions before heading out. Weather can be severe and change quickly, so it’s extremely important to know the latest weather and traffic conditions, and to leave yourself plenty of time to arrive safely.

Get road-ready: Ensure your vehicle is prepared for the winter. Investing in winter tires is a good place to start. Top-up windshield fluids and antifreeze, ensure you have enough gas for every journey, and update your car’s emergency kit. Clear snow and ice from the windshield and mirrors, as well as from the top of the car and from wheel-wells to increase safety for other drivers.

Buckle up: Always wear your seatbelt, and make sure all of your passengers do too. While this may seem obvious as it's the law, it’s also the most important safety consideration no matter the road conditions.

Eyes on the road: Drive slowly and be aware of other motorists and road hazards. Winter roadways can feature big snow-removal vehicles and sand/salt-trucks, as well as distracted drivers and crosswalks full of pedestrians with arm-loads of gifts! Take the necessary precautions and make sure you’re always in control of your vehicle.

Arrive alive: The holidays are all about good times with family and friends. Don’t drink and drive.

 

Plan for the best, prepare for the worst

Icy roads, limited visibility, Top 40 Radio…lots of things can impact your time on the road this winter. If you are involved in a fender-bender this season, remember to contact local police immediately if your collision involves:

 

View original article from TD Insurance.

 

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By: Aliza Prodaniuk

Many students dislike winter on campus. The season throws rain, slush, and snow, in varying degrees, onto the student masses, making hiking to class messy and miserable. Other areas of contention are having to wait for the bus in sub-zero temperatures and McMaster’s sidewalk-salting fetish. Although I personally and admittedly identify with this struggle, I think it is important for optimal student mental health to get outside and enjoy winter-based activities.

I have always been a firm believer that staying mentally and physically active is important in order to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. While education provides us with opportunities to exercise our mental fitness, it can also be the source of stress due to pressing expectations.

I know that for myself, being a successful McMaster student has been contingent on the endless fun of impromptu snowball fights, building snowmen and many a winter hike to see the spectacular frozen waterfalls in the area, all of which offer blissful liberation throughout the winter months.

According to an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, “proximity to green-space has been associated with lower levels of stress and reduced symptomology for depression and anxiety […] [known as the] being away [philosophy].”

As this philosophy suggests, being away incites personal feelings of “escape from the stressful demands of daily life, an extent, in which a perception of vastness and connectedness in an environment helps promote related experiences of being away.”

I have always been a firm believer that staying mentally and physically active is important in order to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Luckily for us, McMaster’s natural backyard offers a plethora of opportunities to get out, get involved and escape into nature. Besides, we have snow this year, snow that will no longer require us to toboggan on half dirt, half slush. It is this year that we have snow, so let’s get out and play.

Two of my absolute favourite, budget-conscious activities that students can participate in include the Sunday Hike Series, facilitated by Nature at McMaster, and skating at Pier 8.

The Sunday Hike Series includes hiking to waterfalls and diverse ecosystems found near McMaster, bestowing that feeling of “being away” noted in the article above. If you are interested in participating, the hikes take place every Sunday and are free to anyone who wants to get involved, unless otherwise noted. Show up outside McMaster niversity Student Centre at 10 a.m. with bus pass in hand.

The very best winter activity though is skating at Pier 8. For those who don’t know, Pier 8 is located along the Bayfront and boasts a great view of Lake Ontario. In winter, the lake is especially breathtaking, offering up a frosty backdrop to the fun of ripping around the ice rink either as a novice or full out figure skater. It is a place for romantics, friends and family to enjoy a great sport and an abundance of fresh air.

The evening is a magical experience as music plays under twinkling lights. This activity is free to anyone with their own gear and rentals are also available for a reasonable price. If you didn’t think it could get better than that, Pier 8 is also home to Williams Cafe, an excellent space to warm up, eat and enjoy a hot beverage such as my personal favorite, a cup of hot cocoa topped with a mass of fresh whipped cream.Remember, staying mentally and physically active is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.

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After a particularly rough day of classes, few things in life are better than relaxing to the festive croon of Michael Bublé’s voice as he sings all the holiday classics. It’s around this time of year that I begin counting down the exact number of days until Christmas Day, blasting Christmas music around the house on my laptop speakers, and nagging my housemate endlessly about the next time she plans on visiting her home in Toronto to pick up our decorations. All of this probably makes me guilty of propagating the widespread pre-Christmas consumerism rampant in early to mid-November, but I love it.

For Western society, Christmas probably marks the largest marketing event of the year. I remember heading to Fortinos a couple of weeks ago, only to find the shelves already cleared of markdown post-Halloween candy and readily stocked with ribbon-and-tinsel wreathes. When I went to the Eaton Centre that very same weekend, I found it swarmed with what must have been half the city, flocking to the mall to get their holiday shopping out of the way. This was weeks away from December, let alone Christmas.

Most widely perused streets now have their trees adorned in Christmas lights, and every coffee shop I pass by is promoting peppermint-flavoured drinks emerging to reclaim their menu space after a yearlong slumber. It’s almost as if November itself doesn’t exist: the transition from Halloween to Christmas seems to occur in the blink of an eye.

And yet, despite being a highly commercial time of the year, the thought of Christmas is usually the one thing keeping me sane in the weeks leading up to exams. There is something intrinsically happy about the preparatory Christmas atmosphere, whether it consists of curling up on the couch with a book in one hand and a steaming cup of hot cocoa in the other, dancing to Jingle Bell Rock during house cleaning and seeing the slight smiles on my housemates’ lips as they mouth the words in tandem, or even simply knowing that the gift you intend on giving someone will be absolutely perfect in letting them know how much you appreciate them.

Christmas isn’t something that has an expiration date. If there’s one thing the retail sector has done right, it’s in saying that it’s never too early for a bit of Christmas spirit. Underneath all the seasonal holiday promotions and crafty Christmas-themed ads (here’s looking at you, Coca-Cola) lies a far less tangible and far more valuable feeling, shaped by a time dedicated to our personal experiences with the people we love in the places we call home. The energy that comes with Christmas hype can and should be harnessed for motivation in getting you through the last few gruelling weeks of school, and the many social events hosted in its honour leading up to Christmas Day also serve as a reminder to take some time off for yourself, rather than working to the point of keeling over.

Winter is coming, and maybe the white walkers are coming with it, but if winter is coming, that means Christmas is too. And let’s be real: if you can handle multiple courses’ worth of exams, taking down a couple of white walkers in the meantime before Christmas gets here should be no problem at all.

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As temperatures drop and students brace for the return of triple-layered sweaters and snow boots, one aspect of summer lingers on campus. Despite the change in season, ladybird beetles are still abundant at McMaster. A quick Twitter search of “ladybug” reveals the annoyance and frustration of many as the beetles have suddenly reappeared in windowsills and corners across southern Ontario.

Marvin Gunderman is annoyed for another reason. McMaster’s in-house entomologist has been captivated by beetles, bugs and other invertebrates since he was a child and corrects the layman’s name “ladybug,” preferring the more correct “ladybird beetle.” “They are true beetles. They have wing-covers that meet in a straight line down the back,” he explained.

Ladybirds are summer insects, seeing out their entire lives from nymph to adult. “They're a bit unusual, because in the insect world, the nymphs and the larvae are the eating stage. The adults basically just mate and disperse,” Gunderman said. Ladybirds rely on their fat stores to help them survive the cold Canadian winter, and to ensure those fat stores are full, both the larvae and adult ladybirds are powerful hunters, an oddity in the insect world. They both feed on aphids and soft-bodied insects.

Interestingly, the species of ladybird invading lecture halls right now is not domestic. The Asian ladybird beetle has been established in Canada for around 20 years according to Gunderman. The species was originally brought to the western hemisphere to protect tobacco and soybean plants from aphids that feed on crops.  However their population grew too difficult to control. “They're prolific breeders. They're very aggressive and they've pushed our native species to the sidelines. They're still around, but in lower numbers,” Gunderman said. Asian ladybirds are typically bigger, with larger mandibles that can actually bite a person, unlike their more local relatives.

Gunderman also had an explanation for their appearance. “The swarms that you're seeing late right now is just a pre-hibernation thing,” he said. That said, due to the cooler temperatures prior to last week, the ladybirds were likely already in hibernation. Gunderman explained that when conditions are favourable, the beetles will come out of hibernation to enjoy the warm weather.

However, this premature revival is detrimental to the ladybirds. Gunderman said, “They need to stay chilled over winter because they only have so many fat reserves. If they're active too often, that means they use the body fat and they have less to ride out the winter. If they don't have it, they'll just die.” This explains the inevitable doom of ladybirds who manage to stay inside a house in the winter. Unless the house's plants have aphids, the ladybird will use its fat stores and die of starvation. Gunderman advised the kindest way to treat ladybirds found in the house is to bring them outside.

While it is unusual for ladybirds to be so prevalent so late in the year, their presence is not a sign of the apocalypse. “It's a very common occurrence, this swarming behaviour. Even prior to the Asian ladybird, we'd still have our native species do the same thing. But with more of the Asian ladybirds, we're just seeing it in more noticeable numbers.”

Gunderman predicts that if Ontario experiences a warmer winter, fewer ladybirds will hibernate properly, leading to a reduction in next year's numbers. “Right now we just have a beautiful warm spell in the weather, so insects are going to be active.”

Photo Credit: Jon White/Photo Editor

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By: Sasha Dhesi and Jennifer La Grassa

Turtlenecks

Quick, tell me one thing that all these people have in common: Audrey Hepburn, Michel Foucault, Steve Jobs, Zayn Malik and Carl Sagan. Nationality? Nope. Ideology? Probably not. Love of turtlenecks? Check!

What is it about a turtleneck that makes it so appealing? It seems as though they’ve never really fallen out of fashion. And how did these sweaters win my heart over every other type of sweater? I remember finding a picture of my dad from his mid twenties, wearing a light blue turtleneck and tweed blazer. Maybe it’s in my genes to like them.

Turtlenecks have long been associated with new ideas and innovation. During the 1950s they were adopted by the beatniks who challenged societal norms with their art. Likewise, in the 1980s they became associated with the late Steve Jobs and his strides in technology through his fledgling company, Apple. They’ve also been a staple in the fashion world, from Twiggy’s teenybopper editorials to Comme des Garçons’ brutal anti-fashion 1992 Fall/Winter collection. The unisex simplicity of the style allows it to be worn and appropriated by many different crowds, arguably making it the most versatile piece one could own.

Either way, turtleneck season has arrived, and with Drake now endorsing them via a cameo in his “Hotline Bling” video, it will only be a matter of weeks before every fast fashion boutique worth anything is brimming to the seams with oversized turtlenecks emblazoned with spikes and slogans. With so many options it may seem impossible to pick, but here are my top choices for those who adore the cozy, sleek look that a turtleneck affords you.

Boots

I love my Steve Madden combat boots as much as I love life itself. It’s been two years since we found each other, and I can’t imagine what fall would be like without them. They go well with all my leggings and jeans. The only downfall to their worn leather brown exterior and cloth laces is their lack of durability and warmth during the winter months; I tend to wear them up until the first decent snowfall, and then tearfully put them away for the year.

Shifting from fall to winter boots is not only an emotional struggle, but a financial and fashion one as well. Finding a boot that looks, feels, and functions well is hard to come by when the amount of snow we get begs for snowshoes. Throughout high school I refused to wear the boots my mom suggested. I wanted boots that made me feel mature. This change of heart sacrificed both my bank account and fragile toes, forcing me to quickly realize that winter fashion came at a cost and that cost was quality.

Last winter, I was due for new boots and because school was a 15 minute walk away and the thought of my toes falling off from frost bite, I allowed my mom to help me shop for a pair of boots. Even though they made me look like a child and the fierceness created by my Steve Madden combat boots melted away a little more each time I wore them, they kept me warm and had good grip, which is all I can ask for when trekking to school in a blizzard.

For those of you searching for the shoe that will get you through winter, these high-quality boots will help you survive the winter in style. Forewarning: Winter boots are costly, but if they are of good quality and proper care has been taken, they’ll last; don’t let the prices scare you away.

Photo Credit: Nate Greenberg

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Try: Get a haircut

The changing of seasons provides a prime opportunity to seek new bounds. One of the easiest and most dramatic personal changes you could make right now? Getting your hair cut – and I don’t mean just a trim.

Personally, I’ve always been a firm supporter of long hair. In fact, I’ve had long hair for as long as I can remember (minus the mushroom cut my mom gave me when I was seven, but who hasn’t suffered through this phase?). It has always been tough for me to justify paying copious amounts of money for a haircut, only to end up getting a trim. This time, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and cut my waist-length hair to my collarbone. Though my trip to the hairdresser was not without a little shortness of breath and a lot of fear, I’m now loving my shorter ‘do. Of course, you should get the cut that makes you feel most comfortable, but cutting your hair short can be a liberating, refreshing change. Plus, short hair looks great with turtlenecks.

Wear: Add some layers

Fall is great for many things, but its best quality is definitely layering. The cooler air brings along the opportunity for more textured, complex outfits. This season, don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and lines. Switch up a traditionally shorter hemline with longer ones. Instead of a t-shirt that hits you at the waist, go for one that hits you mid-thigh, and pair it with light-washed denim and a simple sweater. Also, try out your closet staples with a twist: instead of normal jeans, try selvedge denim or straight-leg trousers. At the end of the day, you can never go wrong with a monochromatic colour palette and simple, clean lines. A good outfit doesn’t have to be—in fact, it rarely is—busy. Cut out busy pieces and add interest to your fit through the art of layering.

Taste: Pumpkin simplicity

Nothing feels more like fall than pumpkin. Although there are many options for using this wondrous vegetable, a warm slice of pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is my personal favourite. Here’s a great, simple, four-step recipe to try out.

Student-friendly pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine pumpkin and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with electric mixer for two minutes.
  2. Pour into prepared piecrust.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F; bake additional 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  5. Cool on wire rack.

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By: Grace Bocking

On behalf of all students, I would like to commend you for your impeccable timing. You somehow managed to coordinate your arrival with the start of a new semester, and I couldn’t think of a better way of welcoming us back if I tried. Truly, nothing motivates me to jump back in to school more than the promise of blistering winds in my face. It’s just what I need to get me out of bed in the morning.

For a while there, I had been convinced that you weren’t planning on showing up at all. I had spent the break mitten-less and with my coat unzipped, so you can imagine how overjoyed I was to learn of your sudden return. I always did like that about you, your spontaneity. There really is no better surprise than being caught in -15 degree weather without a hat or gloves. After all, nothing can beat that moment of pure bliss when your extremities finally lose all feeling. Sure, the first few pages of my lecture notes may not be entirely legible because my fingers were still in the process of thawing, but it’s not like I had anything better to do than rewrite them when I got home.

While some like to complain about the chill in the air, I can only revel in the many joys it brings to my everyday existence. I’d have to say that one of my favourite things about you, cold weather, is the eternally drippy nose you cause. Sniffles are the unofficial sound of the season—a symphony that echoes through every lecture hall for four to five months each year. I mean really, there is no more pleasant sight than that of a floor littered with discarded tissues. And if a nose that runs like a faucet wasn’t enough to warm me to the cold, the copious amount of clothing I have to layer on before venturing outside definitely did the trick. I had been searching for an excuse to wear that hideous-yet-undeniably warm sweater I had been given for Secret Santa this year, and now I have the perfect opportunity.

So, cold weather, I am glad to have been able to take this brief moment to give you the appreciation that you truly deserve. The fact of the matter is that you can only last for so long. We likely only have three more months of you left to enjoy – four, if we’re lucky.  Time flies when you’re freezing, so please, stick around for as long as you’d like.

Signed,

Winter’s number one fan

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