British Columbia

Vancouver snow tire sales are hot

Lower Mainland tire stores say Vancouver drivers are pre-ordering winter tires in record numbers. Record snowfalls in December 2008 and January 2009 appear to be fresh in many car owners' memories.
Memories of this scene on Dec. 22, 2008, might have prompted many Vancouver drivers to plan ahead. ((CBC))

Lower Mainland tire stores say Vancouver drivers are pre-ordering winter tires in record numbers.

Record snowfalls in December 2008 and January 2009 appear to be fresh in many car owners' memories.

"This year, everybody's thinking ahead," said Tom Irving, owner of a Fountain Tire franchise on Clark Drive in Vancouver

The region does not historically get snow every winter, so snow-clearing budgets are low and plows are scarce compared to the rest of Canada. Hundreds of side streets were not cleared for weeks last year.

"I've never in my history of selling tires seen so many people buy winter tires so early in the season."

Irving said his staff has filled a whole service bay with tires ordered by customers determined not to be caught unprepared.

"We always hear that in Vancouver you don't need winter tires," said Irving. "Last year was proof that you need winter tires."

Tires not mandatory, but a good idea

Snow tires are not mandatory in B.C. but authorities can require them on certain highways where conditions demand it.

If you drive past posted signs saying snow tires or chains are required and don't have them installed, you can get hit with a $109 ticket.

If you're in an accident, ICBC says ignoring that posted sign can affect your claim settlement.

A service bay usually occupied by mechanics working on cars is filled with snow tires ordered by Vancouver drivers hoping to get a jump on winter. ((CBC))

If the precipitation on the Metro Vancouver's north shore mountains are any indication, the Lower Mainland could be in for another snowy winter.

The last week of rain has fallen as snow at higher elevations. Mount Seymour has had 134 centimetres of snow since Nov. 13, unusual for the time of year and a boon for those whose business depends on snow.

"This is our second earliest opening in the last dozen years and we're really excited. Conditions are great, the snow is packed in really nicely," said Mount Seymour's Jonathan Mosley, director of the mountain's ski and snowboard school.