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City plans for snowfall over winter holidays

December 19 2017

“This year, we have added new areas for snow and ice removal, including pedestrian pathways, arterial corner ramps, bus stops, and some steep laneways that will help us in collecting garbage and recycling."

Snow on City Hall

With snow in the forecast over the winter holidays, the City is initiating its snow plan and reminding residents of what they can do to stay safe. 

“When snow or freezing temperatures are predicted, engineering crews ensure that our major streets are salted, brined, or plowed depending on the conditions,” says Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services for the City of Vancouver. “This year, we have added new areas for snow and ice removal, including pedestrian pathways, arterial corner ramps, bus stops, and some steep laneways that will help us in collecting garbage and recycling. It is important for residents to remember that it is not in our plan to plow local streets, as is typical of primarily rainy-climate cities such as ours.” 

City crews work 24 hours a day and liaise with a meteorologist for tailored Vancouver-specific weather predictions in order to prepare ahead of snow and ice. 

Improvements approved by Council following the 2016/2017 winter

Based on the lessons learned over the 2016/2017 winter, the City has adopted recommendations for improvements to enhance service to residents when snow falls.

Improvements include expanded coverage locations, increased salt storage, and prioritized service response times. The City has also added new vehicles to the fleet that are adaptable for use in all seasons. The vehicles will enable crews to access some neighbourhoods and lanes more easily to support garbage and green bin collection.

  • Expanded coverage: including the addition of pedestrian pathways, arterial corner ramps, bus stops, and priority laneways required to assist in garbage collection
  • Enhanced response capabilities
    • Using 3-1-1 case study mapping to identify high priority areas and target response zones
    • Training for more drivers so that the City has more crew members to call on for support
    • Deploying mud and snow or all-weather tires to all non-commercial City fleet vehicles (and chains for those with a Gross Vehicle Weight more than 5,000 kg)
    • Expanding the City’s fleet to include vehicles adaptable for use in all seasons to allow better access to some neighbourhood laneways for garbage and green bin collection. Additional equipment will include more dump trucks with ‘winter package’ equipment enabled for snow and ice, and utility vehicles.
  • Priority routes: A three-tier priority route schedule with prioritized response times for each tier
    • Priority 1 – clearance in <12 hours
      • Priority 1 emergency routes
      • Pedestrian paths associated with priority 1 bike lanes
    • Priority 2 – clearance in <48 hours
      • School routes, collector streets, priority 2 hills, and transit routes
      • Pedestrian paths associated with priority 2 bike lanes
    • Priority 3 – clearance in up to 7 days
      • Remaining emergency routes, mini park pathways, arterial sidewalks at bus stops, and corner ramps
      • Priority 3 bike lanes and associated pedestrian paths 
  • Increased salt capacity: Updated salt contracts to secure expanded quotas of salt at a lower price, and updates to salt and brine storage capacity, including:
    • Brine storage tank capacity increased from 11,000 to 30,000 gallons
    • Salt storage facilities upgraded to include loading equipment
    • Salt inventory increased from 2,700 to 8,000 tonnes

What residents can do to prepare for winter

  • Prepare your snow gear early: Make sure you have shovels, snow boots, snow tires, and salt before the first big snowfall. 
  • Know 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.
  • Get 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. 
  • Move 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. 
  • Avoid driving if you can: Check transit schedules at translink.ca for commuting alternatives. 

Become a Snow Angel

Snow and ice on the sidewalk can be a barrier for many people, particularly seniors and people with mobility challenges.

The Snow Angel program helps match volunteers with seniors and people with mobility issues to help clear their sidewalks following a snowfall event.

Sign up to be a Snow Angel

Report flooding or snow issues on VanConnect

Connect with us on the go, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the VanConnect App.

Use the app to report snow causing flooding, issues with transit shelter access, uncleared sidewalks, and any other street maintenance issues.

Download VanConnect at the AppStore, Google Play, or for Blackberry. 

Find more information about how to prepare for winter weather