Metro Vancouver weather: Cold snap has region bracing for frost

From Thursday night, temperatures will begin to drop, reaching as low as -10 C overnight. While snow is not expected, the cold temperatures are prompting many to prepare for icy, slippery roads and icy winds.

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An arctic front is approaching and preparations are underway across the Greater Vancouver region.

From Thursday night, temperatures will begin to drop, reaching as low as -10 C overnight. While snow is not expected, the cold temperatures are prompting many to prepare for icy, slippery roads and icy winds.

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Vancouver activates cold weather plan to protect vulnerable population and keep roads safe

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City crews are preparing to brine, salt and plow priority routes throughout Vancouver.

In addition to identified priority routes, crews will also focus on clearing four popular pedestrian paths: Arbutus Greenway, Central Valley Greenway, False Creek Boardwalk and Coal Harbor Boardwalk. Sixteen of the city’s most frequented cycle routes also top the to-do list.

Residents are reminded that residential side streets are not covered by the city’s cold weather treatment plan, except for hills and access routes near hospitals and schools. Instead, residents are asked to stay tuned for updated weather forecasts and make sure they and their homes are prepared.

It’s not just snow that homeowners are responsible for clearing in front of their properties; Homeowners should also remove ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property. Ice must be removed or thawed by 10 a.m. the morning after a snowfall or risk a fine of up to $750 per violation.

Additionally, those who are homeless and need a respite during the cold snap can visit one of the city’s temporary winter shelters, extreme weather response shelters or warming centers.

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For the 2023-2024 winter season, there are two new temporary winter shelters active, located at the Evelyne Saller Center (404 Alexander St.) and Tenth Avenue Church (11 10th Ave. West). Both shelters offer a mat program and welcome wheelchair users.

In the meantime, several warming centers will open to allow people to warm up as needed. These centers do not offer sleeping space, but visitors can heat their stay as needed. Visit twitter.com/EWRMetroVan daily to see the latest activations.

Several day service centers are also open so people can stay warm during the day. See a map of the city’s shelters and warming centers. online here.

TransLink prepares its fleet for icy conditions

Those using public transportation later this week are advised to allow extra time for their trip as TransLink prepares for sub-zero conditions.

Among the measures being taken, TransLink is coordinating with local municipalities to ensure priority routes are clear, using antifreeze solutions on tram overhead cables, installing tire socks on buses traveling steeper routes, and salting and sanding bus interchanges.

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Routes using articulated buses can also be replaced by conventional 40-foot buses, as they can more easily navigate steep and slippery areas. Meanwhile, SkyTrains on the Millennium Line route will be configured with four cars to increase passenger capacity.

Coast Mountain Bus Company is also testing new winter-grade tires on one-third of the fleet – approximately 500 buses. The tires have a different tread pattern that allows for better grip and have a Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake rating, the highest available for bus tires.

Morning snow scenes in Vancouver, BC;  February 2023.
While we may not see as much snow as we did in February 2023, when this photo was taken, a big cold is still on the way. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /00100033A

WorkSafeBC issues warning on worker safety in cold weather

WorkSafeBC warned employers to take necessary steps to protect their workers ahead of the cold snap expected this week.

“Winter conditions increase the risk of injuries caused by cold stress, frostbite, hypothermia and slips, trips and falls due to icy and slippery surfaces,” BC Hydro’s Suzana Prpic said this week.

“In addition, winter driving conditions can be hazardous across the province, with even the most experienced drivers challenged by low temperatures, slippery roads and reduced visibility.”

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In the decade between 2013 and 2023, 167 short-term disability claims were approved as a result of injuries related to cold weather events. These included frostbite, hypothermia and scrapes from falls. November, December and January also regularly see more work-related car accidents than any other three-month period of the calendar year.

Employers were advised to familiarize themselves with the signs of hypothermia, wear protective clothing and equipment, provide regular indoor breaks, de-ice sidewalks, and conduct safety checks on vehicles driven during icy conditions.

For more information, employers and workers can call the WorkSafeBC information line at 1-888-621-7233.

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