Vancouver opening warming centres, preparing for season’s first significant snowfall

Gastown in Downtown Vancouver.

WITH snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast this week, the City of Vancouver reminded residents on Monday to be prepared and is opening additional indoor spaces for people experiencing homelessness.

City crews are monitoring the weather and a coordinated response plan is underway.

The City said it prioritizes snow and ice treatment, with a focus on:

  • major roads and bus routes;
  • bridges and bridge sidewalks;
  • main streets adjacent to major hospitals;
  • the four major pedestrian pathways – Arbutus Greenway, Central Valley Greenway, False Creek Seawall, and Coal Harbour Seawall; and
  • The 16 most-used bike routes.

Residential side streets are not included as part of the treatment plans, with the exception of priority hills and access routes to hospitals and schools.

There are many things residents can do to help keep the city safe:

  • On snow days, only take essential trips. This helps keep the roads clear for City crews who are out treating snow and ice on the roads.
  • If you need to be on the roads, travel with caution and give way to, or stay at a safe distance when following a plow, salt or brine truck.
  • Equip your vehicle with the right tires for the conditions.
  • If your car is parked on a major route, move it to a side street to make room for plows.
  • Remove snow before it hardens to ice. Vancouver property owners and tenants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks that surround their property by 10 a.m. on the morning following a snowfall. This bylaw is in effect seven days a week. Failure to remove snow and ice may result in fines.

If you are unable to clear your walk and have no other alternatives, you are encouraged to sign up for the Snow Angel Program where volunteers are matched with people with mobility issues to help clear their sidewalks.


Support for people sleeping outside

To ensure that people sleeping outside can come into warm, safe spaces during Vancouver’s coldest months, the City and partners are once again activating a variety of spaces to encourage people to come in from the cold. Due to very cold weather and forecasted snow this week, the City of Vancouver will open a number of warming centres, starting Monday (November 28) night.

These centres are in addition to Temporary Winter Shelters, which are open every night between November and March.

Warming Centres will be open at the following locations:

  • Powell Street Getaway (DTES) – Opens the night of Monday, November 28
  • 450 East Hastings Street
  • 9 p.m. – 7:30 a.m.
  • Odd Fellows Hall (Fairview)  – Opens the night of Tuesday, November 29
  • 1433 West 8th Avenue
  • 9:30 p.m. – 8:30 a.m.
  • Marpole Neighbourhood House  – Opens the night of Monday, November 28
  • 8585 Hudson Street
  • 10 p.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Warming Centres are open when the temperature feels like -5 degrees Celsius or below, as a life-saving measure for people sleeping outside. While they are not set up with beds or mats, hot drinks and snacks are available.

Extreme Weather Response Shelters will be open to provide additional spaces at the following locations:

Directions Youth Services Centre

  • 1138 Burrard Street
  • 10 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Cascades Church

  • 3833 Boundary Road
  • 9:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Bud Osborn EWR

  • 27 West Hastings Street
  • 7 p.m. – 7 a.m.

The Salvation Army Belkin House

  • 555 Homer Street
  • 9 p.m. – 7 a.m.

Langara YMCA

  • 282 West 49th Avenue
  • 9:30 p.m. – 7 a.m.

Extreme Weather Response Shelters provide mats to sleep on and are open during extreme rain, wind, snow or when the temperature feels like 0 degrees Celsius or below.

Depending on the location, visitors to these warm spaces may bring pets, bikes and carts with them.

The City expressed appreciation for community organizations who make their spaces available to activate as Warming Centres and Extreme Weather Response Shelters.