Winter conditions testing patience of Lower Mainland residents

Lower Mainland residents and city workers are still trying to clean up after the latest snowfall.

Snow and ice-covered streets and sidewalks are impeding business as usual in the Lower Mainland

A senior walks over an icy sidewalk near Hillcrest Park in Vancouver. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

Lower Mainland residents and city workers are still trying to clean up after the latest snowfall. 

Snow accumulation during December has created a number of problems for residents in higher elevations and hard-to-reach areas like local streets and lanes.

Cars stuck

Cars were abandoned after getting stuck in the snow Tuesday night, and many remain immovable as they sit fixed on road shoulders and driveways. 

Jerry Dubrovolny with the city of Vancouver said snow and ice removal crews have been catching up on plowing local roads, moving their way through their route priorities.

He said workers have worked 14-hour shifts, and are slowly making progress with the steep, narrow, and icy back alleys which have not been safely accessible.

A vehicle struggles to mount a snow covered incline near Queen Elizabeth Park. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

Garbage collection delays

Curbside recycling, garbage, and green bin collection have been disrupted in parts of Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Delta.

Some Burnaby residents say they have not had any collection services for weeks. 

Amelia Pan says her family has waited weeks for garbage and recycling collection, as workers have not been able to access the steep and icy road to their Burnaby cul-de-sac. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

While workers continue their collection efforts, the City of  Vancouver is offering residents free drop-offs for household garbage at the Vancouver South Transfer Station. 

Hazards for firefighters

Residents and businesses are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear of snow and ice, but many sidewalks have been neglected this winter.

The BC Fire Fighters Union has noted an increase in falls due to slippery conditions. 

"We are waiting an hour on the side of the street with someone wrapped in blankets," said Dustin Bourdeaudhuy, vice-president of Vancouver Fire Fighters' Union local 18.

"It's frustrating for people, it's frustrating for us cause we're tied up at these calls. People want an ambulance and they end up driving themselves to the hospital."

Bourdeaudhuy said in some cases, ambulances and fire trucks simply can't make their way onto snow-packed side streets, or can't risk going up or down hilly roads that haven't been plowed.

"It delays our response," he said.

"It's a difficult situation because there's so many roads in the city, they can only plow so many so quickly, and they need the main arteries done.

"But for people having medical emergencies or a fire, it delays the response, and that affects outcomes."

Volunteer organization pitching in

While some people may be neglecting their civic duty, the Vancouver Snow Angels organization recognizes that seniors and people with limited mobility may have trouble keeping their sidewalks clean, and therefore can receive the free service when calling 3-1-1.

David MacKenzie is the volunteer coordinator for Vancouver's Snow Angels. Similar programs which assist seniors and people with mobility issues are available around the Lower Mainland. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

David MacKenzie, volunteer coordinator for the Vancouver chapter, said the Snow Angels have received around 300 requests this season. 

"It's important for us to find a way to clear as many sidewalks as we can, because there are people who are bound in their homes, because they aren't able to travel on the public sidewalks," MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie said the Snow Angels could use more volunteers, especially with snow in the forecast for the first few days of the new year.