British Columbia·Photos

Wet jobs: Vancouverites fight to stay dry on a rainy workday

As heavy rains kick off the new year, outdoor workers defiantly ward off the wet weather.

As heavy rains kick off the new year, outdoor workers defiantly ward off the wet weather

Sharlyn Vandenbroek is part of Nordstrom's visual decoration team. On Thursday, she was tasked with dismantling holiday displays and loading them into trucks in the rain. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Lifeguards, park supervisors, and construction workers — many jobs draw workers who are passionate about the great outdoors.

But sometimes, when the heavy rain rolls in, there's still work to be done.

In Metro Vancouver, stormy weather meant more than 30 millimetres of rain on Thursday in parts of the region.

Parking metres run seven days a week, so even on the rainiest of days, city workers need to collect the coins. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The downpour inevitably forced many to retreat indoors. But for those who make their living underneath an open sky, there was no choice but to tough it out.

CBC News took to the Vancouver streets to chat with the soggiest of workers on a wet January afternoon.

Some members of the cleanup crew had dryer jobs than others, including this worker who found refuge loading up the back of a five-ton truck. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The holiday wrecking-crew

Christmas doesn't clean itself up.

On Thursday, crews who set up holiday displays in Robson Square and nearby stores were tasked with taking them down.

Kayla Walton and a horde of other workers filled multiple five-ton-trucks with Christmas trees, decorations, and props.

Kayla Walton says the storms can take you by surprise, but living in Vancouver means you should expect a little bit of a downpour. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

"In Vancouver, if you're working outside, you kind of need to expect that it's going to rain," Walton said. "I did expect it was going to rain — but not like this."

Walton's pro tip: bring extra socks.

Workers from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association were also braving the rain, tidying up the streets to keep them well maintained. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Stewards of the street

Traffic flagger Wayne Bodner was among those standing guard while the giant Christmas tree beside the Vancouver Art Gallery was being taken down.

Rain drops keep falling on the helmet of Wayne Bodner who takes pride in keeping the streets safe. He says the wet weather is a fact of life in Vancouver, and doesn't do any harm to him. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

It's a job he's enjoyed for six years, even in the rain.

"It's only water — I got waterproof stuff," he said. The list includes three coats, boots, and even a battery-powered sweater that heats up his back.

"You can even get battery-powered socks, too," he added.

A city worker unloads street-side trash bins in what appears to be a near-record breaking pace. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)
City of Vancouver workers clean up the rainy streets in style as they quickly unload trash bins into their collection truck. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Toughing it out

For 25 years, indigenous carver Darcy Coon has utilized the city streets to sell his art.

At this time of year, he says, business can be a bit challenging.

Coon carves paddles and totems, often selling them outside busy stores on Granville street — rain or shine. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

"After the holidays, there are a number of people that are financially short — so it can be quite frustrating at times when you have to sit out here all day, just to literally make a buck," Coon said while carving his latest piece.

Darcy Coon can be spotted across Vancouver on any given day selling his trademark carvings that he diligently protects from the rain with a poncho. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

On soggy days, he simply retreats to the shelter of an awning. But he also has to be careful that water doesn't make its way to the wood, and warp his art.

"I've got a poncho for my display," he said with a smile.