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City crews, TransLink bracing as more snow expected tonight

With another several centimeters of snow expected to fall in Metro Vancouver starting Monday it’s all hands on deck to keep the city’s streets clear.

 Vancouver city crews clearing snow along Cambie Street Monday morning. Photo Dan ToulgoetVancouver city crews clearing snow along Cambie Street Monday morning. Photo Dan Toulgoet

With another several centimeters of snow expected to fall in Metro Vancouver starting Monday it’s all hands on deck in an attempt to keep the city’s streets clear.

“We have crews working around the clock,” said Erin Hoess, manager of street operations. “We’ve had crews working for the past over a week now 24 hours a day and they’re going to continue by preparing for our upcoming snowfall that we are expecting.”

She said snow removal crews focus on priority routes first.

“In particular when the snow is going to be falling that we are expecting we will focus on those main arterials, the emergency response routes, of course, as well as some key priority hills,” Hoess said.

Around 10 centimeters of snow fell in the region Sunday and another 15 to 25 centimeters are expected to fall starting Monday afternoon and overnight into Tuesday morning.

Hoess recommended that residents stay off the roads, especially while the snow is falling, or take transit, if possible.

“It’s very challenging for our drivers when they’re stuck in traffic. We can’t get through our routes as quickly as we’d want to,” she said.

Residents and business owners are reminded that they are responsible for clearing their sidewalk by 10 a.m. the morning following a snowfall, Hoess said, adding that seniors or those with mobility challenges who are unable to clear their own sidewalk can have it done by a volunteer through the city’s Snow Angels program.

Residents can access that service online.

“We’re also always looking for volunteers to be those snow angels,” Hoess said.

The city also announced Monday that green bin collection has been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

“We will be continuing with garbage collection, regular garbage collection, but we do expect green bin collection to resume again on Wednesday,” Hoess said. “Crews have been re-assigned to help support the garbage collection as well as the snow response plans.”

For those living on Vancouver’s streets, the city is opening extra shelter spaces and warming centres.

Extra shelter spaces are available at: First Baptist Church (969 Burrard St.), Directions Youth Services Centre (1138 Burrard) and Evelyne Saller Centre (320 Alexander St.).

As well, warming centres will be open Monday night at Powell Street Getaway (528 Powell), Britannia Community Centre (1739 Venables St.), Vancouver Public Library main branch (350 W. Georgia St.) and West End Community Centre (870 Denman St.).

The warming centres can accommodate everyone and accept pets, bikes and carts. Hot drinks and snacks are provided.

Transit across the region experienced some delays and shutdowns thanks to snow and ice Monday morning and TransLink said to expect more of the same Tuesday morning.

“We are getting ready to provide as much service as possible for customers, but they should expect less frequency on SkyTrain than they’re used to,” TransLink said in a news release sent out Monday afternoon. “Under these weather conditions, all of our trains must be manned by a staff member, limiting the number of trains available.”

The transit authority has committed to:

  • Call out extra staff to assist customers and coordinate service.
  • Salt and sand all transit exchanges to prevent slippery surfaces.
  • Coordinate with municipalities on snow clearing if priority routes are impacted.
  • Deploy special trucks to spread anti-icing solution on trolley wires.
  • Install brass “cutters” on some trolley buses to cut through ice on trolley wires.

If conditions are severe TransLink will implement a number of additional measures, including:

  • Replace articulated buses with 40’ conventional buses when necessary, as they are more agile on steep, slippery areas.
  • Install tire socks on buses on Burnaby Mountain and on key North Shore routes where hills and traction are an issue.
  • Run special SkyTrain that sprays de-icer on the power rail to keep trains moving.
  • Run trains through the night if snow is especially heavy, to keep tracks clear.
  • Send HandyDART out with two staff per vehicle, to ensure customers get safely to their door, and assist in digging out the bus if required.
  • Activate further staff increases to assist customers right across the system.