Hunkering down: how the City of Vancouver gets winter ready

Dec 19 2017, 6:13 pm

How does the City of Vancouver actually prepare for our winter?

While it might not get buried in snow like other Canadian cities, Vancouver still has a lot of preparation to do in the weeks and months leading up to the seasonal rain and cold. So we decided to take a quick look at how Vancouver gets winter ready.


Autumn leaves can be a hazard for our gutter and water systems. So what happens to all those fallen autumn leaves we see crews picking up and putting on tarps? For five weeks starting in November, the City of Vancouver crews clean up said fallen leaves. They are cleared manually and loaded on trucks, then composted and used for topsoil in city gardens.

High tides

Did you know the City has a fleet of trucks specifically outfitted to fill sand and salt bags when the tides rise and the rain won’t quit. During king tides in 2014, workers had to sandbag a stretch of Jericho Beach and luckily there was minimal damage.


If Vancouver does get a snowfall or storm, crews can fit up to 44 trucks with plows, salters, and sanders. And if a major snowfall does happen, all city crews get redirected to clearing roads.

Despite the low snowfall throughout Vancouver, the City is always on high alert. They have four 7-yard dump trucks that are fully equipped with a salter and plow and ready to go 24/7. And depending on the snowfall, the City can get an additional 22 11-yard dump trucks and 22 7-yard dump trucks with salters and plows.


The winter rains and cold temperatures play havoc on city streets. With the constant drizzle and plummeting mercury, water seeps into the asphalt and freezes. Because water expands when frozen, the asphalt cracks and eventually a pothole forms – last year, the City repaired over 32,000 of them. To report potholes, drivers can call 3-1-1, use VanConnect (the City’s mobile app), or send a Tweet to @cityofvancouver and repairs will be made.

Cold, wet roads present many other dangers for Vancouver drivers, but a set of winter tires will make life easier thanks to their special compound and tread as they provide maximum traction in all winter weather conditions. Once the daily temperature drops to seven degrees Celsius or below, your all-season tires lose effectiveness and it’s time to swap. Talk to your dealership service centre, they’ve been specially trained to know which set of winter tires is best for your needs.

Black ice

Another winter problem in Vancouver is black ice. Cars without winter tires can easily slip and slide up and down our steep, hilly streets. City officials receive multiple weather reports daily and only salt street surfaces when the temperatures drop. Vancouver uses salt to combat this issue and make navigating through our streets a little easier, but they find that brine (a heavily concentrated salt-water mixture) works better than hard salt because it doesn’t get kicked up as much, it’s easier on paint, and cars tend to last longer because there isn’t as much salt on the roads.

So, the question is, how should you prepare for the upcoming winter season? We recommend pulling out your umbrella and warm clothing, turning on the furnace and installing a set of winter tires on your vehicle.

Got your own winter safety tips? Why not share tell us what you will be doing to prepare for the coming chill in the comments section below. 

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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