With plunging temperatures set to grip Metro Vancouver and the rest of B.C. this week, city crews are working to clear roads of wet snow that fell on several areas.
Snow fell across the region Saturday night into Sunday morning, with an additional snowfall expected to hit several areas later in the day.
But with rain turning a lot of that snow into slush, crews say it’s becoming more critical to get the streets plowed before temperatures fall below freezing and stay there through the week.
“If it does freeze, we will be out there with salt,” Vancouver’s director of streets Taryn Scollard said Sunday. “Our exact deployment will depend on how the weather changes.
“At this point we’re prepping for thawing and freezing, and we have a few trucks going to pre-do the area for sanitation and garbage pickup.”
Some salt and sand mixtures are being used for slopes, she added, with supplies expected to last the city throughout the deep freeze.
Scollard said close to 40 units have been out since early Sunday morning plowing main arterial roads and bus routes, with side streets being cleared in order of garbage collection.
That’s left many side streets waiting to be cleared throughout the city, but Scollard said the city is on it.
“We’re asking people to be patient,” she said. “It is, as you can imagine, a difficult job to plow all these streets, and we’ll all get there together.”
As the snow turned to rain midday Sunday, Scollard said crews were pushing snow from the curbs back into the middle of the streets again to allow vehicles to break it up.
In Surrey, where 35 crews have been out since Friday when the first snow fell, work is continuing to ensure the streets don’t turn into ice rinks.
“We’ve been widening out the roads and trying to get as much snow off the roads as we can,” said the city’s manager of engineering operations, Ray Kerr.
“We’ll continue to run around the clock if it gets as cold as they say, and we’ll only stop when it warms up again.”
Kerr is also not anticipating any salt shortages, with more expected to arrive next week.
Forecasters say temperatures will hover around freezing levels until at least Friday, with the coldest temperatures set for Monday and Tuesday.
Extreme cold warnings are in place for much of the rest of the province, with temperatures expected to fall to anywhere between minus 20 and minus 40 degrees Celsius.
Shovel your walks
Scollard said in addition to clearing catch basins to avoid flooding while the snow melts, residents are reminded to shovel their walks.
Homeowners who don’t have their walks cleared by 10 a.m. are subject to a $250 fine after a warning notice from the city.
“I know myself, I do a lot of walking around in the city and I do appreciate when people do take the time,” she said.
“If you are a resident or business owner, we ask you to please do your best to clear those sidewalks.”
People with mobility problems can call 311 to take advantage of Vancouver’s Snow Angel program, which coordinates volunteers to help clear walkways.
Residents are also asked to keep an eye on their neighbours, and offer help to those who may face challenges shoveling snow.
Scollard said city crews are working to clear snow from bus shelters and curb ramps.
With the clock ticking until Monday’s morning commute, the city says it will do its best to keep traffic flowing — while again asking drivers to be patient.
“If you’re stuck in rush hour, we’re in rush hour, too, so please take your time and follow the road conditions,” Scollard said.
YVR airport prepares
Meanwhile, workers at Vancouver International Airport are preparing to keep runways and tarmacs ice-free.
“They’ll be continually measuring the friction and the temperatures and applying the appropriate de-icing fluids, or sweeping or plowing if there’s any more snow,” the airport’s vice president of engineering Don Ehrenholz said.
Planes will also likely have to go through de-icing, he added, which will likely add extra wait times ahead of takeoff.
“There will be minor effects on schedules, but it shouldn’t affect passengers boarding the aircraft,” he said.
Travellers are advised to plan for additional time getting to the airport ahead of their flight.
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