Photo: City of Surrey Surrey snow-removal crews are armed with 17,000 tonnes of salt and 62 pieces of equipment as winter draws near.

Surrey’s ready for winter with 17,000 tonnes of salt, online snow plow tracker

Environment Canada forecasting up to five centimetres of snow for Lower Mainland

Surrey’s snow-clearing crews are at the ready with 62 pieces of equipment and literally tonnes of salt.

“We have a facility here that holds about 17,000 tonnes of salt and that usually lasts us throughout the winter season,” explained Harry Janda, Surrey solid waste and contracts manager. “We have used above that amount, if it’s a really bad season. For example in the 2016-17 season we used 20,000 tonnes.”

READ ALSO: Snow on its way to the Lower Mainland, says Environment Canada forecasters, Jan. 8, 2020

That was the year there was a chaos at a Vancouver fire hall as salt was handed out amid a shortage, with flocks of residents turning up with huge buckets in hand. Media dubbed it a “free salt frenzy.”

In Surrey, people were ice skating on city streets that winter, when temperatures in Surrey were at or below zero degrees Celsius for 44 days between Dec. 4, 2016 and Jan. 16, 2017. That was the longest duration of freezing temperatures since 1984, and more snow fell in the city after that.

But this year a rather mild winter is forecast.

“That’s what we’ve heard,” said Janda. “But any typical season, there’s still going to be a few breakouts with snow or ice.”

An online tool the City of Surrey launched last winter is continuing this year. It allows residents to keep tabs on where snow trucks are and to see which roads have been plowed.

“It’s called 511,” said Janda. “It’s a really awesome system, allowing people to track the snow plows online. It’s not in live time, but it’s very close.”

See it for yourself at 511portal.com/surrey, AKA Surrey Plow Tracker.

READ ALSO: Wondering why your Surrey street hasn’t been snow plowed? Here’s why, Jan. 4, 2017

READ ALSO: Surrey getting new tool to clear snow from sidewalks, Nov. 2, 2017

homelessphoto

(Photo: 511portal.com/surrey)

A sidewalk-clearing sidewalk pilot project will continue this winter in the City Centre area.

“It’s assigned to that area because there’s major pedestrian walkways, so we’ll be clearing sidewalks and walkways in that area this year,” said Janda, noting in future years, the city may extend the pilot to other areas of the city.

It’s just one of the 62 pieces of snow-clearing equipment the city has in its arsenal. Others include 22 one-tonne trucks, 24 “big” snow plows, six graders and 10 brine units.

A few years ago, Surrey started using liquid salt brine in addition to traditional road salt that puts a skim coat on the pavement, making it difficult for ice to form – and easier to plow. That will continue this year.

As always, when snowfall begins, city crews will operate under a priority system for the 4,500 lane kilometres they oversee.

When snow falls, Surrey’s roads are put into three groups to ensure major routes get cleared first.

There are “first-priority” roads in the city – key arteries that are used by large numbers of drivers. They include main roads, bus routes and roads with steep hills. Roads fronting and/or leading to schools and long-term care facilities are also included.

“Second-priority” roads are remaining arterial and collector routes. These include local connector roads in residential areas.

But if winter weather returns, crews revert back to focusing on first priority roads.

The city doesn’t typically deal with residential road clearing because the weather usually warms up or rain will melt the snow by time crews get to them.

According to a report to council this summer, the city has identified a number of ways it intends to improve services this winter, including improving response times to priority three routes (residential streets) in prolonged snow events; increasing business owner compliance for snow-clearing; and maintaining sidewalks next to urban forests and city-owned land.

Surrey’s snow-removal efforts are literally award-winning.

The city won the American Public Works Association Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award this year. It has only been won by two other Canadian cities; Calgary and Winnipeg. The award is based on materials/handling, equipment, technical, training, community outreach and environmental.

Meantime, Janda is reminding residents that it’s their responsibility to clear adjacent sidewalks when snow falls.

Failure to do so could mean a fine of $50 for residents, and $75 for businesses. During the epic 2016-17 winter, the city issued more than 80 fines.

The city urges residents to do so as soon as possible after snow falls, and reminds shovellers to pile it on their lawn — not the roadway.

The city’s website, surrey.ca, features a map showing priority routes throughout the city, so locals can see if their road is a priority for snow-removal crews. Click here to see the map.

Click here to read more about Surrey’s winter, snow and ice control operations.

The city has budgeted $3.7 million for snow control this year.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Cloverdale’s Coldest Night of the Year charity walk raises $125K

Annual event sees more than 500 walkers take part

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

All-Surrey battle for South Fraser boys basketball title

At Tamanawis, the top four teams will go to provincials

Surrey RCMP boss Brian Edwards on moving forward, and what keeps him awake at night

Edwards spoke with Now-Leader reporter Tom Zytaruk about what he’s learning and hopes to accomplish as Surrey’s top cop

Hopes are for ‘focus on Surrey investments’ when Horgan speaks in March

Luncheon at golf course planned by Surrey Board of Trade

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

UPDATE: Protesters dismantle blockade on Maple Ridge tracks

West Coast Express train service is expected to run again Tuesday morning

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Most Read