Snow Etiquette in Vancouver


Saturday, December 20th, 2008 — 10:41am PST
Comments 13

Over a year ago I did a post about umbrella etiquette and I think it’s time to share some information, laws, and common courtesies regarding snowy conditions in our fair city.

No driving through the park, eh

Last night we witnessed about 3 accidents in the alley behind our house as it is not sanded or plowed. Alleys aren’t really a priority for the city so I can understand this, however if you’re driving around town and see a back lane, covered in ice, and on a incline the first thing that pops into your head should be, “how about I take another route”.

City Priorities for Clearing

1) Street
The City of Vancouver first focuses its efforts to control snow and ice on the arterial streets, transit routes, and major collector streets. These are designated ‘Snow Emergency Routes’ and are treated immediately after a snowfall. Sufficient equipment is available to treat all such routes within a few hours under usual snowfall conditions.

2) Bridges
Bridge decks are very susceptible to icing. These are also given top priority by the snow and ice control personnel for patrolling, salting and sanding.

3) Residential hills and designated bicycle routes (that is, integrated routes on city streets, rather than strictly recreational routes such as along the waterfront) are also considered a high priority. Every attempt is made to treat them on the first day.

4) Frost and snow on steep streets
In some cases, steep streets such as Oak from Broadway to 6th. Avenue will be barricaded off to prevent cars from attempting to drive on the hills.

5) Sidewalks
Sidewalks are not cleared by City staff, except on bridges, pedestrian underpasses and overpasses, public access walks and stairs, and in bus stop landing areas.

6) City-owned parking lots
Some City-owned parking lots may be cleared by City staff, but this work receives the lowest priority.

Vancouver has many awnings and we’re very prepared for rain and the need cover. As such, snow has been building up on these slopes that hang above the sidewalks. I saw someone get showered by a sheet of snow that fell off an awning. Business owners, please head out there if you can, grab a broom, and pull down those snow sheets before someone gets hurt – same goes for icicles.

Finally, sidewalks. As the city states, they’re only cleared by their staff when they’re on public property. If you have a sidewalk or path in front of your home you are responsible for clearing it.

Vancouver property owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalks that surround their property by 10 a.m.

The City’s snow removal by-law applies to all property owners in the city except one- and two-family residences outside the downtown peninsula — south of Burrard Inlet, north of Terminal Avenue, False Creek and English Bay, west of Main Street, and east of Stanley Park.

Property owners who fail to remove snow and ice as required by the by-law may be subject to a fine of up to $2,000, or the City can have the snow removed and bill the owner for the cost. [City of Vancouver]

As the sun is coming out to shine over us (with only 4 shopping days left) things will melt and also freeze up again at night. Travel safe, walk and drive slowly, and avoid slippery icy patches whenever you can. It also helps to be a good neighbour and clear off the walk for someone who might not be able to get out and do so themselves.

Update: Suggestions and more helpful tips from Twitter – @JenniferPriest “Also, clean snow off the top of the car. Rather blinding as it goes flying at the driver behind.”

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13 comments

  1. 3 Accidents in an alley!! That’s gotta be a record lol – what kinda clowns wreck their car in an alley!?

  2. Jenny says:

    I’d like to add that just because you have a 4X4 does not mean you can drive like a moron in the snow. 4×4 does not = can brake better than others on icy hills or snow covered streets.

    Also pedestrians DO NOT walk on the road. You have no idea how many people avoid the snowy sidewalks and walk along the roadside. This is super dangerous! Roads are already more narrow than before because of snow banks and having to try to steer around you could cause the car to hit you.

  3. teflonjedi says:

    At least Vancouver doesn’t seem to have those quant Boston traditions, regarding marking off your “personal” on-street parking spot with spare furniture…

  4. Michael Kwan says:

    I didn’t know that the city snow-clearing bylaw did NOT apply to single family houses outside the Downtown Peninsula. I was always told that every property owner was responsible for clearing the snow off of the sidewalk in front of the building. I don’t live downtown, but I’ve always cleared the sidewalk in front of my house.

  5. […] from his house, which looks over downtown of all the snow on Flickr, Miss604 talks about the ever important snow ettiquette (although her pictures look like there’s not much snow), and there are Flickr pictures […]

  6. Tyler Ingram says:

    Michael – There are bylaws in each municipality pertaining to shoveling their sidewalks (or at least the ones I’ve lived in)

    There is also a law saying you do have to remove the snow off your car prior to using it. I know a couple people who have been pulled over and ticketed for it.

  7. Michael Kwan says:

    So, living in East Vancouver, I don’t have to shovel my sidewalk?

  8. […] giant snowfall that we have experienced over the weekend. As a public service, she reminds us of snow etiquette in Vancouver. Be sure to clear the sidewalk in front of your house, avoid the extra icy side streets if at all […]

  9. Had enough says:

    Another rule that needs mentioning:

    DO NOT shovel the snow from your driveway and sidewalk over the fence and into the neighbour’s yard!!

    Amazingly, some people are actually inconsiderate enough to be doing this when they think no one is watching.

  10. Mike says:

    Michael Kwan: no, you don’t have to but many people in your neighbourhood would think of you as an inconsiderate neighbour if you leave your sidewalk unplowed.

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  12. Scott says:

    I’m not familiar with the area around your alley, but many residents don’t have a choice whether to drive in the alley or not if they want to get to their own driveway. And in weather like this, it’s perfectly understandable that they wouldn’t want to park on the street!

  13. Rebecca Bollwitt says:

    @Scott You should take that up with the City. I listed their top 6 priorities and did not see allies on there, hence my comment.

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