Snow incoming! Here’s what you need to know about snow removal on the North Shore

·4 min read

Along with the beautiful, white blankets of snow that cover the North Shore every winter, in tandem we also get the fun task of cleaning up and removing it from our sidewalks and roads.

As we have multiple governing bodies across this great winter wonderland of ours, sometimes the bylaws and regulations of snow removal can be confusing.

Here, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about removing snow on the North Shore:

City of North Vancouver

Residents and businesses are required to clear ice and snow from sidewalks and apply salt or de-icer around their property within 24 hours after the snow stops falling.

For those businesses and residents that don’t clear it within the regulated period, a fine of $100 might be handed out.

However, the city said it doesn’t often happen.

“As it is usually a short-term event, few tickets have been issued. We have had four snow clearing files over the holidays,” the city said to North Shore News.

The city prioritizes snow clearing efforts using a system determined by use and needs.

Priority 1: Main and arterial streets, steep hills, bus routes, and access to emergency services.

Priority 2: Collector streets and routes leading to schools.

Priority 3: Once conditions have stabilized, and first and second priority routes are under control, crews will attempt to clear local streets.

“City crews also clear multi-use pathways and trails on a priority basis to provide safe alternative ways for people to get around. Additionally, sections of trails, sidewalks and pathways leading to schools (ahead of school days) are cleared.”

District of North Vancouver

The District of North Vancouver encourages residents and business to clear snow as soon as possible, but surprisingly doesn’t regulate that it must be cleared from sidewalks around single-family homes within 24 hours of snow falling.

However, owners and occupiers of multi-family dwellings? You’re on the hook.

“Owners or occupiers of commercial, industrial or multi-family dwellings are required by district bylaw to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of snow or ice that has accumulated, or before snow accumulates more than 10 cm,” a district spokesperson told North Shore News.

Fines of $130 may be given to those who don’t adhere to the rules.

The district also encourages residents to help neighbours out, and buddy up with those who might not be able to clear snow away themselves.

However, the district is responsible for clearing sidewalks, bus stops and roadways in front of schools, as well as sidewalks bordering parks and public facilities.

Snow removal priorities in the district have been determined by public input, consultation with the North Vancouver School District, council workshops, TransLink, and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

This includes prioritizing arterial streets, bus routes and access to emergency services, first.

“Priority 2 streets are routes leading to schools and collector streets, which move traffic from local streets to arterial roads. Once conditions have stabilized, and first and second priority routes are under control, crews will attempt to clear local streets. District crews work with emergency crews on an on-call basis to clear the way for ambulances, police vehicles and fire trucks,” the district told North Shore News.

The district also works in teams to prioritize salting and clearing bike lanes, high priority sidewalks, school zone sidewalks and drop-off areas, multi-use pathways, and main sidewalks.

District of West Vancouver

The district notes that it’s important to be ready for any forecasted snowfall, by clearing storm drains and leaves and debris from around your property.

Property owners then have 24 hours to clear snow from sidewalks around businesses and residences; however, not doing so might lead to a $45 fine.

Vehicle owners are encouraged to park their cars and trucks off streets, if they can, to help with district snow removal. If it blocks the district’s ability to remove snow, it might be fined as well.

Snow clearing routes have been highlighted by the district, similarly to the others, in a three-phased approach.

Priority 1 routes include: Bus routes, emergency routes, arterial roads (e.g. Marine Drive) and major collector roads (e.g. 15th Street) are the first to be cleared. During longer storms, primary roads – especially bus routes – are repeatedly plowed to ensure that everyone has a viable transportation alternative.

Priority 2: School routes and minor collector roads (e.g. Bellevue Avenue) are the second to be cleared.

Priority 3: Local roads, cul-de-sacs, footpaths and footbridges will be dealt with after the weather disturbance has passed and/or Priority 1 and 2 routes are in a safe and stable condition.

However, the district does ask that residents be patient when waiting for Priority 3 routes to be cleared – depending on the amount of snowfall, it might be delayed.

In 2020, the district also launched its Snow Angel volunteer program. The initiative looks to help those who might not be able to clear the snow themselves and has so far been a success.

“We have had heavy snow in West Vancouver recently, and volunteers are out in the community helping residents in need – particularly elderly residents and residents with illnesses, disabilities, or mobility challenges – clear snow from their sidewalks and walkways,” a district spokesperson told North Shore News.

Charlie Carey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News

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