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Snow and ice on the street

City prepares for winter weather, encourages residents to do the same

"When it snows, our priority is ensuring main arterials and bus routes are kept clear, to keep streets safe for all users," says Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services.

November 21 2018 –

As the seasons shift, the City of Vancouver is preparing for its winter weather response and is encouraging residents to take time to do the same.

“At the City, we operate 24 hours a day. By working with a meteorologist to give us specific weather reports for Vancouver, we are able to staff up when we get notice that the weather is changing,” says Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services.

“When it snows, our priority is ensuring main arterials and bus routes are kept clear, to keep streets safe for all users. We are also extremely grateful to the residents who have recently joined our Adopt a Catch Basin and Snow Angels programs to be part of a quick and timely response when the weather changes.”

Improved equipment

The City also works closely with Vancouver Park Board to ensure their operations teams are coordinated and supported.

“This year, many of our John Deere mowers will be equipped with snow brushes and salt spreaders so our staff can easily remove snow from sidewalks, paths, the seawall, and parking lots.

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,” says Howard Normann, Director of Parks, Vancouver Park Board.

How we prepare for fall and winter weather

The City works with a meteorologist for tailored Vancouver-specific weather predictions, and in addition to doing maintenance throughout the year, keeps staff on hand 24 hours a day to respond to weather incidents.

Rain

Throughout the fall season, the City sweeps and clears leaves from streets and provides additional leaf pick-up days to help clear away and then compost fallen leaves.

Prior to heavy rain, the City proactively clears catch basins known to be prone to flooding and notifies Adopt a Catch Basin volunteers to encourage them to clear their catch basins.

Residents can use the VanConnect App to report flooding and any other street maintenance issues. Learn more about seasonal leaf collection.

Snow

The City has a comprehensive snow response plan built into its operational procedures.

When snow or freezing temperatures are predicted, the City ensures that arterial streets are salted, brined, or plowed depending on the conditions.

In 2017, the City also expanded coverage locations, increased salt availability, and developed a three-tiered service response time system.

The City also added new vehicles to the fleet that are adaptable for use in all seasons. The vehicles enable crews to support garbage and green bin collection during a snow event. Learn more about the city's snow response.

What you can do to prepare for winter

Prepare your snow gear early. Make sure you have the following items before temperatures drop:

  • Shovels
  • Snow boots
  • Winter tires
  • Salt 

Get winter tires 

If you plan to drive on snow days during the winter, be sure you install 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 during the season.

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, crews can better clear arterials for all users.

Avoid driving if you can

Check transit schedules  for commuting alternatives. 

Know your obligations

Raking or blowing leaves into the street is a finable offence up to $10,000.

Learn more about how the City supports leaf cleaning 

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.

If you are unable to clear your walk and have no other alternatives, you are encouraged to sign up for the Snow Angel Program to be connected to a volunteer.

Failure to remove snow and ice create a danger to pedestrians and may result in fines.

Programs that support you in getting involved and helping your neighbours

The City supports a number of volunteer opportunities that help to facilitate residents in making our city a great, vibrant, and connected community. These low-barrier programs are popular with families and residents looking for flexible opportunities that connect them with neighbours and their neighbourhood.

Adopt a Catch Basin Program

What do “Grate Expectations” “Live Inlet Die” and “Kevin Basin” have in common? They are all the names of catch basins adopted throughout Vancouver.

With over 45,000 catch basins in the city, residents help clearing leaves or snow from catch basins in advance of rain to dramatically reduce neighbourhood flooding.

Adopt a catch basin

Snow Angel Program 

Snow and ice on the sidewalk can be a barrier for many people, particularly low-income seniors and people with mobility challenges who can’t afford to hire help. 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