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City crews continue work to remove remaining snow and ice

January 5 2017 Vancouver residents and businesses are asked to support

Person shovelling

 UPDATE: The salt giveaway is no longer available at any of the fire halls.

Our crews are working hard to ensure that they can deliver some additional mixture of salt and sand at 10 fire halls later this afternoon.

If you’re going to the fire halls later today:

  • There is a limit of one bucket per person
  • You must bring your own bucket

We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to get at least some salt or sand for their needs.

Where to get free salt

What we've done so far

Throughout the holiday period, City crews and equipment have been working around the clock dealing with snowy and icy roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks – and this work carries on this week as the cold weather is expected to continue. The current focus is on parts of the city where there is higher elevations and likely to be more residual snow and ice.

To support this work:

  • More than 260 staff have been redeployed from other City projects
  • Over 150 additional staff have been brought on to salt and sand residential streets
  • Additional trucks have been hired to assist
  • 115 extra staff have continued work on helping to clear the backlog of missed garbage collections

These efforts have required us to temporarily suspend some non-essential city construction and service installations.

Service requests

To date, we have received over 1,800 requests for service related to snow and ice through 311 and VanConnect and staff have cleared more than 1,300 of them. Please continue to report any areas of concern through the VanConnect app or by calling 311.

Download VanConnect

Since this weekend, staff have also been responding to a request from the Vancouver School Board to support with snow and ice removal on the streets surrounding 13 schools that have been identified as priorities.

How we clear snow and ice

Up until the end of 2016, we have spent $2.5 million on snow and ice mitigation as our 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.

Our priority routes

We plow priority routes. These include:

  • Major roads
  • Bus routes
  • Bridges
  • Emergency access routes
  • The most used bike routes and walkways

View the priority bike routes list PDF file (80 KB)

View the priority bike routes map PDF file (900 KB)

Use of salt

So far this winter season, City crews have used between 6,500-7,000 tonnes of salt which is more than triple the amount used in the last two winter periods combined (approx. 1,000 tonnes each season). We are in constant contact with its salt suppliers to ensure there is an adequate amount of salt reserves.

Please clear sidewalks of snow and ice

We have called upon our Vancouver Volunteer Corps members to assist with shoveling and clearing sidewalks in the neighbourhoods that they live in.

Please support our efforts by ensuring that the sidewalks in front of where you live are kept clear of snow and ice. Additionally, it is important that everyone remains safe during this winter period, proper winter shoes are vital when walking outdoors as well as ensuring that if you do choose to drive, that your car has winter tires.

Get free salt

Starting this morning, additional salt is available at 10 fire halls around the city that you can access for free between 9:00am to 8:00pm to help clear your sidewalks and driveways. Please bring your own bucket and shovel to pick up some of the salt.

As supply at the fire halls is limited, take only as much salt as you need, with a maximum of one bucket, and to consider an online donation to any local charities in that area in exchange for the free salt.

Bylaw enforcement

All property owners and landlords, including businesses are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks that surround their property by 10:00 am the morning following a snowfall as required by the Streets and Traffic Bylaw, Section 76 and 76A. This responsibility is in effect seven days a week.

If there is a prolonged period of snow and freezing temperatures and property owners are not complying, we go through a process of first and second notification and then we may take steps to prosecute through the courts for penalties or clear the sidewalk and charge the property owner for that work.

To date, we have inspected over 3,780 properties and issued more than 1,700 notices.

There is a compliance rate of:

  • 90%  from commercial properties
  • 85% from apartments
  • 85% from residential

Starting today, an additional 50 bylaw enforcement officers will be redeployed from other areas to focus on snow and ice. Staff will begin to issue tickets (starting at $250) for failure to keep sidewalks clear, with an initial focus on commercial properties.

Volunteer to be a Snow Angel

Please help seniors and people with limited mobility clear their sidewalk after a snowfall in their neighbourhood by becoming a Snow Angel.

Volunteer by registering either:

So far we have received over 320 requests for snow removals through our Snow Angel program.

There are more than 70 registered Snow Angels; however, there is a need for more volunteers in all neighbourhoods in the south side of Vancouver, from Dunbar to Killarney, as well as in the Hastings-Sunrise area in the north east part of the city.