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Ready for Anything – Winter Response Plan 2015/16
Winter Response Plan

Be ready for anything this winter

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Winter weather brings cold temperatures and wet conditions to Vancouver and can cause safety issues for cyclists, commuters and pedestrians. Here are some tips to help you be ready for anything that winter brings as well as what the City does to be prepared for the winter weather.

Learn how to manage winter weather conditions in the city

Leaves and flooding

Get the City's #VanConnect app

Fall flooding can be reported via the VanConnect app
  • Report non-emergency floods
  • Tell us about fallen trees 
  • Get reminders about leaf collection and street sweeping

Get the VanConnect app

Street cleaning and leaf collection

Stormy fall and winter weather can cause clogged catch basins to flood. Help prevent flooding in your neighbourhood by raking and clearing leaves from the catch basin in front of your home and putting the leaves into your green bin.

Street sweeping and clearing of leaves and debris will begin mid-November, but until then, we need your help to keep things unclogged and flowing.

Extra leaf collection from your home

Extra leaves in biodegradable paper yard waste bags will be collected city-wide by crews on the following designated weekends:

  • October 29 to 30
  • November 19 to 20
  • December 10 to 11
  • January 14 to 15, 2017 (Christmas trees will also be collected)

Leaves may be collected on either Saturday or Sunday (not both days). To avoid a missed collection, set  leaves out for collection before 7:00am on the scheduled Saturday, and  download the VanCollect app for collection reminders.

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Ready for snow

Number of City owned snow plows that help keep us winter ready

Watch: How the City of Vancouver manages snow removal

The City's robust system for clearing snow from streets includes 45 plow/salter trucks, 4 brine units, and two Kubotas that can salt or brine streets.

The City's response to snowy or icy roads depends on the weather conditions:

  • When streets are dry, trucks spray brine which helps to melt any snow that may fall or frost that forms;
  • When snow accumulates and streets are wet, salt is spread to melt the snow. In lower sub-zero temperatures, sand may also be used for traction;
  • If there is 5 cm or more of snowfall, all brine and salt trucks are equipped with a plow blade which can be put into service immediately.

Watch the video to learn more about how we keep streets safe in the winter.

Are you a senior or do you have mobility issues?

If you need help shovelling your sidewalk, phone 3-1-1. Staff at 3-1-1 will try to connect you with a volunteer "Snow Angel" in your area.

You can also check with local community groups, schools, or churches for volunteers who may be able to help you clear your sidewalk.

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Power outages

To report a power outage:

  1. Visit BCHydro.com to check current known outages
  2. Report unlisted outages online using your MyHydro account
  3. If you don’t have an online account call 1 888 POWERON (1 888 769 3766) on a corded landline, or *49376 (*HYDRO) on your mobile phone.

 You can also report broken street lights and outages to the City via the VanConnect app.

Note: This feed is supplied via rss from bcyhdro.com.


Fallen trees

Get the City's #VanConnect app

Fall flooding can be reported via the VanConnect app
  • Report non-emergency floods
  • Tell us about fallen trees 
  • Get reminders about leaf collection and street sweeping

Get the VanConnect app

Storms and tree damage

High winds can result in tree damage and falling branches. The City will work with the community to make sure roads and buildings are safe, and that people have access to the help they need during extreme weather.

Report fallen trees in your neighbourhood

Provided that the issue is non-emergency, follow theses steps to get City crews to your community.

  1. Best option:
    Use the City's VanConnect app to avoid waiting on hold

  2. Next best option:
    Call us at 3-1-1 to report the issue

  3. Third option
    Tweet us @CityofVancouver

Visit Environment Canada for updated weather alerts.


Winter shelter strategy

Number of new beds available at temporary winter shelters

We are committed to ensuring homeless residents have a safe, warm place to come inside to during the cold winter months.

Over the last eight winters, the City of Vancouver and BC Housing have partnered to open temporary winter shelters so people experiencing homelessness can find the support they need.

2016-2017 winter shelters to open 190 beds

October 25, 2016 – This winter 190 beds will become available at 6 temporary winter shelter locations in Vancouver, thanks to funding from the BC Government and the City of Vancouver.

Shelter address Beds Opening hours Operator
134 E Cordova St 40, for men and women

8:00pm to 8:00am,
7 days per week,
starting October 14

Salvation Army
119 E Cordova St 30, for men only 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting November 1
Salvation Army
49 W Cordova St 30, for men and women 9:00pm to 9:00am,
7 days per week,
starting November 1
Portland Hotel Society
1648 E 1st Ave 40, for men and women 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting November 15
RainCity Housing and Support Society
1401 Hornby St 40, for men and women 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting December 1
RainCity Housing and Support Society
1138 Burrard St 10, for male and female youth 9:00pm to 6:30am,
7 days per week,
starting December 1
Directions Youth Services

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Flooding and king tides

Vancouver's highest king tide on record (1967)

What are king tides?

King tides are extreme high tides that happen twice a year when the sun and moon’s gravitation forces reinforce one another. These king tide events offer us a chance to visualise what normal sea levels may look like in the future as levels rise due to climate change.

By 2050, our winter high tides will be more like today’s annual king tide.

How high is the water going to rise?

The following tide numbers are for Point Atkinson which is near Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver. Usual water level at high tide is 3.4m – 4.3m.

Very high water levels that could cause flooding will occur when high tides coincide with strong winter storms. Be flood ready External website


Read more on the BC Provincial Government website and share your stories with us using the hashtag #KingTidesBC.

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Cyclist safety tips

Map of protected bike lanes in downtown Vancouver

Winter bike safety

At the City, our job is to help create safe travel experiences and to help educate people about ways they can protect themselves and others on our streets, sidewalks and bike routes.

Making cycling feel safe, convenient, comfortable and fun for people of all ages and abilities is a key transportation priority for the City of Vancouver.

Winter cycling tips

  • Don’t ride bicycles on the sidewalk - stay to the right hand side of the roadway or in designated bike lanes.
  • Use a bell on your bicycle to warn approaching pedestrians and other road users.
  • Bicycles are vehicles and must follow all rules of the road.
  • Using a light on your bike or a handheld flashlight is helpful when travelling in the dark.
  • Obeying traffic laws – stopping and yielding at signs, looking both ways when turning and crossing.
  • Wearing reflective gear and items when out cycling helps you be seen by others around you.
  • Report hazards to City services using our VanConnect app.

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Pedestrian Safety Tips

Pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers need to work together to make walking feel safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities in the city. With some of the best Walkscores in the country, our neighbourhoods should make us want to walk, regardless of a little rain.

Tips for pedestrians in winter months

  • Being aware of our surroundings is key – although hoods, hats and umbrellas are necessary in our climate, it’s really important you have good visibility.
  • Always make eye contact with approaching drivers and cyclists before crossing the road.
  • Wear bright reflective clothing at night or during poor visibility. There are even reflective items for your pets!
  • Don’t Jaywalk – it is illegal and unsafe. Cross at crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
  • Pay attention and don’t text while walking.
  • Report hazards to City services using our VanConnect app.

Watch: Pedestrian jaywalking


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Driver safety tips

Percent of crashes in BC that occur in the lower mainland (2013, icbc.com)

Driving in rain and snow

If your vehicle is equipped for the weather and you're feeling confident, remember to take extra precautions on the road. Be sure to plan ahead and always check road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca before heading out.

Tips for a safe winter drive

  • Give more distance between cars, slow down, and allow yourself more travel time.
  • Remember: speed limits are set for ideal conditions.
  • Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road.
  • Give extra time and space to stop in bad weather.
  • Prevent hydroplaning by scanning ahead for large puddles and slowing down.
  • If you hydroplane, ease off the gas and keep steering in the direction you want to go – avoid braking.
  • If you hit black ice and start to skid, don't brake. Ease off the gas, and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go.
  • Watch for potholes, and report road issues using the VanConnect app on your smartphone.


Emergency preparedness

Watch: Learn how to prepare your family's emergency kit

Prepare an emergency plan, so every member of your family understands what to do if there is an earthquake or other disaster.

Other things you can do

Want to learn more about how to prepare yourself, your family, and your pets for an emergency? Register for free workshops

Are you interested in helping your community and playing a critical role during major events, emergencies, and disasters? Sign up to volunteer with the City

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