British Columbia

Winter tires mandatory on many B.C. highways starting Saturday

B.C.'s annual winter tire rules kick in on Saturday, which means drivers could be fined if they don't have winter tires in good condition on many of the province's highways.

Tire rules to last into spring, drivers without proper tires in good condition may be fined $121

A winter tire on snowy terrain.
Winter tires are mandatory in B.C. from Oct. 1 to March 31 or April 30, depending on the route. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

B.C.'s annual winter tire rules kick in on Saturday, which means drivers could be fined if they don't have winter tires in good condition on many of the province's highways.

The rules are in place every year from Oct. 1 to March 31, while some highways will have the rules extended until April 30 due to early-spring snowfall, according to the province.

The annual requirement covers:

  • All highways in the North;
  • All highways in the Interior;
  • Sections of some highways on the South Coast, including the Sea to Sky Highway;
  • Sections of some highways on Vancouver Island, including the Malahat and Highways 4, 14 and 28.

Trucks and heavy vehicles — over 11.7 tons — travelling on those routes will also have to carry tire chains.

A full map of the highways that require winter tires can be found on the Transportation Ministry's website. The routes which will have the rules extended into April will be clearly marked, according to the ministry, and include mountain passes.

If drivers are caught without winter tires in good condition, they could be fined $121 and turned away from their route.

Look for the snowflake or 'M+S'

Winter tires — sometimes called alpine or snow tires — are marked with a symbol of a snowflake inside a three-peaked mountain placed on the sidewall of the tire.

Mud and snow tires, marked with an 'M+S' symbol, also qualify as winter tires, though the Ministry of Transportation notes they are less effective than dedicated alpine snow tires.

"M+S tires are a safe option if you only encounter winter conditions on a limited basis and are prepared to drive with added care and caution if winter conditions are encountered," reads the ICBC website.

"If you live or travel in an area where you would normally and regularly expect snow, ice and slush, we recommend using four matched winter tires that carry the mountain/snowflake symbol."

The ministry requires winter tires to have tread at least 3.5 millimetres deep. It requires at least two matching winter tires on the vehicle's drive axle, but recommends a matching set on all wheels.

More information about the requirement, and other winter driving tips, can be found on the ministry website.

With files from Rhianna Schmunk

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