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It may be July, but a lot of us have not forgotten what last winter was like, with icy sidewalks, snowy streets, and abandoned garbage collection as sanitation crews struggled to get up and down laneways. The CBC reports that the City of Vancouver has  learned from the disastrous glacial pace of the salt trucks and plows, and are planning an increased budget for more materials and more vehicles for this winter season. There’s some interesting information too-last winter was classified as a one in thirty year event, with the longest continuous  stretch of days with temperatures at 5 degrees or below-42 days.

The Council Report   outlines a strategy to prepare in advance of a snow event and then to follow-up when one occurs. There is priority for emergency routes and “pedestrian paths associated with Priority 1 bike lanes” which will be cleared in under 12 hours. Within 48 hours, school routes, collector streets and transit routes will be cleared; and within 7 days,  remaining emergency routes and arterial sidewalks will be cleared.

The City is also contemplating fining folks who are driving in Vancouver’s snowy conditions without snow tires. As the report notes: “Some of the obstacles to snow clearing included people driving ill-equipped private vehicles that blocked traffic and snow clearing equipment. In addition to providing clear messaging about travel during snow events, the following is recommended:

Amendment of the by-law to fine drivers that are on the road in snow conditions without winter tires;
Installation of signage at entry points to the city to reinforce that vehicles need to be properly equipped to drive in the city during snow events; and
Inclusion of information about public responsibilities for winter driving readiness in the City of Vancouver with City tax receipt mail outs.”

Taryn Scollard who wrote the Council report noted to the CBC:  “It’s about those who have caused disruptions,” she said. “It’s essentially trying to help people understand to play their part. Certainly on those snow days if you choose to not get winter tires then perhaps you stay home, take transit or bike or walk.”

The City will also be upgrading their response to people who have not shovelled the sidewalk in front of their residential properties by 10:00 a.m. every day as specified in the bylaw.  While most people hope that last winter’s long stay won’t  be repeated soon, the council report does mention that “these more extreme weather events may become more frequent in light of climate change.” 

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