City of Vancouver says it's ready to take on winter weather

Nov 6 2019, 8:24 pm

Although this winter is predicted to be a milder, drier one in Vancouver, the city isn’t taking any chances when it comes to the potential for snow over the course of the season.

And on Wednesday morning, the city unveiled its winter response plans, highlighting things like investments in new equipment and improvements to its snow removal routing system.

“When it snows, our priority is ensuring main arterials and bus routes are kept clear, to keep streets safe for all users,” said Cheryl Nelms, Acting General Manager of Engineering Services.

In total, the city has 71 vehicles outfitted for snow and ice response, a salt supply of 10,000 tonnes, and hundreds of personnel available as required.

The city is also replacing components of the fleet that are “no longer reliable, due to age and heavy use.” This includes two multi-purpose vehicles to support clearing of pedestrian paths, as well as seven trucks to support road clearing.

The city noted that it also works closely with the Park Board to tackle the onslaught of winter weather.

“Many of our John Deere mowers and trucks will once again be equipped with snow plows and salt spreaders so our staff can easily remove snow from sidewalks, paths, the seawall, and parking lots providing safe access to our venues,” says Amit Gandha, Manager of Park Operations, Vancouver Park Board. “We’re committed to clearing snow and ice in a timely manner with a focus on priority areas such as community centres and destination parks.”

But beyond just reacting to the snow once it arrives, the city said it works with a meteorologist “for tailored Vancouver-specific weather predictions” to help residents prepare in advance.

And when it comes to snow, there is a “comprehensive snow response plan” built into operational procedures.

“At the City, we operate 24 hours a day,” said Nelms.

Two years ago, the city also expanded coverage locations, increased salt availability, and developed a three-tiered service response time system. As such, its priority locations for snow and ice removal are the following:

  • Major roads
  • Bus routes
  • Bridges
  • Emergency access routes (including five major hospitals and two health care facilities)
  • School routes
  • 15 most-used bike routes
  • Sidewalks around schools and hospitals
  • Bus stops
  • Arterial corner ramps

Dealing with winter yourself

While the city is preparing its winter battle plan, it also provided a list of tips and tricks to help residents avoid issues and/or deal with problems quicker once the snow starts flying.

Some of these include:

  • Be prepared: Make sure you have shovels, snow boots, snow tires, and salt before the first big snowfall.
  • Knowing your obligations: All property owners and occupants must clear snow and ice from sidewalks around their property by 10 am the morning after a snowfall, seven days a week. Failure to remove snow and ice may result in fines.
  • Getting winter tires: If you drive through the winter, consider getting tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the mud and snow symbol, with at least 3.5 mm tread. The Province of BC requires these tires on provincial highways.
  • Moving your car: City crews plow major roads and bus routes. By moving your car to a side street or garage when snow is predicted or after it snows, city crews can better clear arterials for all users.
  • Avoiding driving if you can: Check transit schedules for commuting alternatives.

Stay safe, and good luck out there this winter.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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