Vancouver prepares streets for first winter snowfall this weekend, opens warming shelters

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      Vancouver is already brining streets and bike paths today (January 22) in anticipation of freezing temperatures and the season's first real snowfall this weekend (January 23 and 24).

      The city announced in a January 22 news release that it will also be opening warming shelters for homeless residents after forecasts of freezing weather and snow starting Saturday evening and continuing into Sunday.

      Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a special weather statement on January 21 that predicted two to five centimetres of snow for the South Coast and most of the Lower Mainland and called for five to 10 centimetres of snow on eastern and inland Vancouver Island.

      Although some snow fell in Metro Vancouver in November 2020, it didn't stick in most places except those at higher elevations, such as the North Shore and Burnaby Mountain.

      In the release, the city said it is currently brining "key routes" such as major roads, the 15 most popular pathways and bike routes, bridges, and bus routes in advance of possible ice and snow.

      "With over 100 vehicles, 3,000 tonnes of guaranteed salt supply, and hundreds of staff available to deploy as required, crews will remain focused on treating priority routes for ice and snow," the release stated.

      Craig Takeuchi

      Warming centres will open from January 22 to 27, according to the city bulletin, and will have pandemic protocols in place. "The City encourages anyone who is sleeping outside to visit one of these centres which are open to all, including people who have pets and carts, and will provide hot drinks and snacks. This year, measures are in place at warming centres to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and all sites have reduced capacity to support physical distancing requirements."

      The warming centres are located at the following addresses: Powell Street Getaway, 528 Powell Street (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.); Vancouver Aquatic Centre, 1050 Beach Avenue (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.); and Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

      The city also asked motorists to exercise discretion when considering driving this weekend.

      "This year, to help our essential workers clear the roads on snowy days, we are asking residents to only undertake essential travel on the roads and bike routes," the release continued. "If you do need to be on the roads, travel with caution and please give way to or stay at a safe distance when following a salt and plow truck. If your vehicle is parked on a major route, please plan ahead by moving it to a side street or garage."

      As well, the release reminded residents of their legal obligation to clear the snow and/or ice from sidewalks before 10 a.m. the morning following any snowfall, seven days a week.

      "It’s important that snow is cleared promptly from walkways and sidewalks before it hardens to ice."