City of Windsor closes recreation, culture facilities due to winter storm
Mobile vaccination clinic scheduled for Thursday at Forest Glade Arena has been cancelled
The City of Windsor is closing its recreation facilities, community centres, museums and libraries until Thursday afternoon due to the snowfall hitting the area.
Environment and Climate Change Canada had earlier issued a winter storm warning for the area, but that was downgraded to a snowfall warning on Wednesday afternoon.
Up to 20 centimetres of snow is expected by Thursday morning; however, due to mild temperatures, significant snowfall accumulation had not occurred on Wednesday afternoon, Environment Canada said.
The City of Windsor said the closures will delay all aquatic and recreation programming, and a mobile vaccination clinic that was planned for Thursday at Forest Glade Arena has been cancelled.
All facilities will remain closed until 3:30 p.m. Thursday. In the meantime, snow clearing crews will get the sites prepared for Thursday evening programming, the city said.
Storm system stretches 3,000 kilometres
David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the storm system bringing the snowfall to southern Ontario was a very, very big one.
"It's one of the largest systems I've ever seen, stretching across the U.S. for about 3,000 kilometres from one part of the country to another," Phillips said. "Even though it's going to move fairly fast — because it has so much to come — that's why it's going to be drawn out."
WATCH: Here’s a temperature check of the roads in Windsor … main road vs side road. <a href="https://t.co/rwp4V0hFuQ">pic.twitter.com/rwp4V0hFuQ</a>—@JasonViauCBC
Phillips said the weather system began in the Texas area but is being fed by weather systems in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere across the U.S. Millions of people in North America will be affected by the large weather system, he said.
"This one has got all elements of precipitation to it, it's got rain, freezing ice, freezing drizzle, it's got snow," he said, adding that areas of the U.S. have already seen the storm.
City prepares for storm
On Tuesday, the City of Windsor said it was preparing for the storm by applying de-icing materials to the roads before the snowfall, with plows ready to roll-out once accumulation reaches "at least five centimetres."
"Once the main roads are clear, and only if more than ten centimetres of snow has fallen, trucks will then move into residential areas," said a media release sent by the city.
The city said vehicles parked on the sides of roads can impact snow clearing.
"As always, the City of Windsor's number one priority is making sure roadways are plowed and safe. At this time, residents are asked to be understanding and patient, as clearing could take extra time should staffing issues related to COVID-19 impact service," the city said.
The city is also reminding residents it's their responsibility to clear sidewalks abutting their properties. Under a city bylaw, shovelling snow onto city streets is prohibited, and sidewalks must be cleaned within four hours after snowfall ends in commercial areas and 12 hours for residential areas.
The city is looking for volunteers for its Snow Angels program, which helps clear walkways for those people who cannot.
"Check in your community, if you see neighbours that have trouble shovelling or need their driveways cleared, see if they'll need help," said Kyle Woods, a member of W.E. S.E.E., a group of weather enthusiasts who track storms in Windsor-Essex.
Woods said it's a good idea to keep snacks, water and a shovel in your vehicle in case conditions worsen while on the road and people get stranded.
"This storm is really going to be a long duration, it's not going to be a quick-hitting one like others," said Woods.
On Tuesday, Essex County OPP warned drivers to take extra caution on the roads, as the snow hits the region.
Police say drivers should properly maintain their vehicles, check road conditions while planning any trips, and to drive slowly and defensively when snow is on the roadways.
OPP are urging the public not to call the Provincial Communications Centre for road or weather conditions. OPP say police do not provide this information, and callers tie up the phone lines that are meant for use in emergency situations.
Homeless community seeks shelter
The weather is also having an impact on those most vulnerable in Windsor.
Despite the storm, Pastor Glenn Taylor was outside the city's Homelessness and Housing Help Hub providing soup and sandwiches on Wednesday, as he and his wife do regularly.
"Every Wednesday we try to come down to feed these hurting people," he said.
Matthew Turner expressed thanks to Taylor, and others supporting the community, saying he was touched by their efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, is causing more problems for those needing shelter.
"I wish I can make plans, but I honestly take an interest in the next guy, because I've been there and I've done that," he said. "I hate to see my brothers get cold while I'm up with my feet up in a hotel room, when 15 guys can stay in that hotel room."
"But due to COVID restrictions ... it just makes it so much harder to come together as a community."
Brad Anderson, a homeless resident of Windsor, said he had been talking to some friends about staying with them, and getting out of the storm.
Anderson said he has made use of organizations like Street Help or the Downtown Mission in the past, and may do so again on Wednesday night.
"It kind of just really depends on how tired and sore I am from all the walking and carrying bags, and trying to find a stable spot," he said. "In the process of doing that, you're also running into other people with the same problems, and you find a way that you can help them, and they can help you."
"So you end up going around the block a few times."
- An earlier version of this story referred to Kyle Woods by an incorrect last name. The error has been corrected.Feb 02, 2022 1:54 PM ET