Taking back the street at 16 below

Randy Glover posted on his Lost Kootenays blog an old photo of children sleighing on Goepel Street in Trail, BC, in 1947. You don’t see that so much these days.

Well, here’s a modern update. It’s minus 16 degrees Celsius in Saskatoon today, and there are kids playing in the street.

Our Saskatoon neighbourhood has changed a lot over the years. Maybe it’s now come full circle. Given the age of this subdivision, I bet that at about the time when we were growing up and playing in the streets of Trail, there were kids here doing the same.

But when I first moved here, the families were getting old, a lot of the retired people didn’t get out much, and then people started moving away.

At first, the newcomers weren’t a lot different than those that left, but over the past couple of years we’ve been seeing more young families. I guess the older houses in this neighbourhood are still affordable for a lot of younger families.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of kids playing in the street. Mostly, they’ve been running or riding bikes up and down the sidewalks, occasionally making brief forays onto the edge of the street.

But today, the roadway is covered in packed snow with patches of ice. Several kids are out in the cold, sunny day, pushing and sliding sleighs back and forth along the length of the street. Some of them are running and pushing, then jumping on so that they can slide for several yards along the slick surface. A toddler is sitting on one while an older boy pushes from behind as fast as he can, zipping from one end of the block to the other. Occasionally, somebody’s orange tabby cat dashes out from behind a parked car to give chase.

It’s a wonderful scene, reminiscent of the places where I grew up, minus the hills, of course, because this is Saskatchewan!

I’m sure there’s some do-gooder out there that will decry parents who would allow their children to venture out onto the street to play, where they might get hit by a car. But as far as I’m concerned, residential streets are for residents, and what cars are there are only there to get to the houses (but we also have back lanes in this neighbourhood). When we were growing up, drivers knew that residential streets were where kids played shinny or tag, or rode bikes (often unsteadily) or slid toboggans, and generally ran about. You knew to drive very slowly and cautiously and not to use residential streets for shortcuts.

Streets are for people – again.

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