Roads slick, ferries cancelled as snowfall hits Metro Vancouver

Commuters across B.C.’s South Coast should brace for a potentially challenging day on the roads as snowfall piles up, particularly in higher areas, while wind incapacitates parts of the the ferry system.

Environment Canada is warning those in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to expect five to 25 centimetres of snow by noon Friday. 

The weather system is also forecast to bring strong winds up to 80 km/h near the Strait of Georgia, prompting ferry cancellations between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Snowplows were busy clearing roads in areas such as Westwood Plateau in Coquitlam and SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus overnight, while the City of Vancouver has been salting and brining streets to ease conditions. 

Snowplows were busy clearing roads around the SFU Burnaby bus loop well past midnight. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Ferry cancellations

BC Ferries is warning that the windstorm predicted by Environment Canada for Friday morning is likely to affect ferry service in the morning and early afternoon.

As of 6:30 a.m. PT Friday, the following routes have been cancelled:

  • 8:25 a.m. departures from both Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay.
  • 7:45 a.m. departures from both Tsawwassen and Duke Point.
  • 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. departures from both Tsawassen and Swartz Bay.
  • All sailings between Tsawassen the the Gulf Islands before 12:30 p.m.

The ferry operator is also warning there could be further cancellations over the weekend. 

Transit plans

TransLink said it has several plans in place to keep transit in the region running smoothly.

Special trucks have been spreading anti-icing solution on trolley wires all night and brass cutters will be installed on some buses to cut through any ice build-up on trolley wires.

Extra staff will be on hand to assist customers and coordinate with municipalities if priority routes are affected. 

A HandyDART will be sent out with two staff per vehicle to assist in digging out buses if required.

If conditions worsen, TransLink says it will replace articulated buses with 40-foot conventional buses as needed because they are more agile on steep, slippery areas. 

Tire socks will be installed on buses on Burnaby Mountain and on hilly routes on the North Shore.

A special SkyTrain spraying de-icer is expected to be in operation. Millennium Line trains will be coupled into four-car configurations to increase capacity.

Snow falls at Mains and Broadway Streets in Vancouver on Jan. 10, 2020. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Warming centres open

City warming centres will be open from Sunday to Wednesday. Anyone is welcome, as are their belongings and pets. Hot drinks and snacks are available, and those with their own bedding can sleep at the centres.

The Powell Street Getaway, next to Oppenheimer Park, is already open and will remain open until Wednesday.

Other centre locations include:

Sunday to Tuesday:

Britannia Community Centre (9 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.)
Vancouver Aquatic Centre (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.)
Overdose Prevention Society (11 p.m. to 8 a.m.)


Britannia Community Centre (9 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.)
Overdose Prevention Society (11 p.m. to 8 a.m.)

The city said warming centres have been visited 2,597 times over 22 nights of operation since winter began.

Residents reminded to clear sidewalks

City of Vancouver bylaws state property owners and occupants must clear snow and ice from sidewalks around their property by 10 a.m. the morning after a snowfall, seven days a week.

Those who are not able to do so themselves are asked to find someone to do it for them, or contact the city’s Snow Angel Program to be paired with a volunteer.

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