British Columbia

City of Vancouver rolls out new snow fighting strategy

Municipality says it's applying lessons learned from last winter

Susana da Silva

November 10, 2017

Sadrudin Pisani received a ticket after his car spun and got stuck on a hill on East 49th Avenue in Vancouver on Jan. 2, 2017. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The City of Vancouver says last winter was a one-in-30-year event. Even so, it says, it's made a number of improvements and additions to its snow plan for this year.

Salt and more salt

Normally, the city usually keeps a salt stockpile of about 3,000 tonnes and generally uses about 1,000 tonnes. Last year, it used about 14 times that, so this year, it says, it will be keeping about 11,000 tonnes on hand.

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The City of Vancouver has increased the stockpile of salt it keeps on hand by 8,000 tonnes. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

Officials say they'd like to avoid a repeat of the chaos of people scrambling for free salt.

"Hoping people plan well ahead and having gone through the experience of last winter will get salt well in advance. So, we are hoping we won't get to the point of having to give salt away again," said manager of street operations Ken Brown.

People fill their buckets with free salt at Firehall 13 in the Riley Park neighbourhood. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

New purchases

The city's snow budget, which has usually been around $780,000 per year, has now increased to $1.62 million per year with $4.5 million invested in purchasing equipment, upgrading the yards and installing traffic cameras.

The city admits some of the additions come after many complaints from residents whose small side streets and laneways remained encased in ice and snow for weeks, leaving them stranded and garbage collection disrupted.

It says it has added 10 new four-wheel drive trucks that will be able to get into and clear smaller spaces.

This is one of 14 trucks that will be used to clear smaller spaces like laneways and side streets. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

It has also doubled its brine-making capability, which, it says, can extend the time before roads need to be plowed by two to three extra hours.

A brine spraying truck. The city says it has doubled its brine making making capacity. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

Responding to complaints from last year about bike paths being cleared when walkways weren't, the city says it has purchased three more of these vehicles to do both.

Ken Brown, manager of street operations, described last year's snow as a one in 30-year event. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

Park Board Plans

The park board has a 64-page snow plan that includes outfitting mowers, that normally cut grass, with blades and brushes to cut through snow.

"Number one priority is community, senior and daycare centres, so people can get their kids safely to their programs in the morning and seniors can get to swimming pools ... their yoga programs. Whatever they are involved with," said Vancouver Park Board director Howard Norman.

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