VANCOUVER – Vancouver bylaw officers have issued 9,000 warnings and a few hundred tickets to city residents and businesses who failed scrape snow and ice from their walkways.
The announcement comes as another big chill is set to hit southern British Columbia, and this time Vancouver city officials say they are ready with plenty of salt and sand on roadways to prevent streets from once again turning to skating rinks.
Environment Canada is forecasting a low of -10 C Wednesday night and a chance of snow going into the weekend for Metro Vancouver.
The city’s general manager of engineering services, Jerry Dobrovolny, said Monday additional staff have been diverted to snow removal efforts and more resources will be made available, if necessary.
But Dobrovolny wouldn’t say if the city planned to conduct its clean-up differently after several rounds of snow and plunging temperatures left many residential streets and walkways iced over for days on end.
“Much of Canada will have snow-covered streets for most of the winter because they don’t have the weather break in terms of temperature and we had five, six weeks this year that we had a similar situation,” he said.
The city received between 200 and 300 reports daily from residents about problem areas coated in ice and snow, but complaints have since tapered off to about 50 calls per day, he said.
Despite residential roads freezing over, Dobrovolny said priority routes, such as major roads and areas around schools and hospitals, were kept clear.
The city offered free road salt to residents last week and police had to be called in to some of the distribution sites where disputes broke out between residents waiting in line.
Dobrovolny said the city has already gone through nearly 10 times the amount of salt it uses for an average winter and it has increased the number of salt suppliers to ensure there won’t be a shortage.
The city is working with the Park Board to clear pedestrian paths and seawalls now that priority areas are clear, he said.
“It’s important that whenever we have a response to weather … that we’re able to scale and tailor our response to the weather conditions because we don’t control mother nature, we respond to what’s happening,” he said.
In addition to snow removal concerns, cold temperatures have officials worried about the homeless population.
The city’s homelessness director Ethel Whitty said warming stations at three community centres would remain open in the coming days.
She said on average, 10 to 15 people spent the night at the stations in recent weeks, with up to 150 people dropping in at each shelter for a few hours at a time.
Those visiting the warming centres either chose not to stay at regular shelters or found they were at capacity, Whitty said.
The warming centres are a new initiative and city manager Sadhu Johnston said the locations may move or expand depending on the need and how long the cold snap lasts.