A Metro Vancouver mayor is calling for the B.C. government to review its snow removal contracts and consider using its emergency alert system to better inform drivers of dangerous road conditions.
In a letter to Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, Delta Mayor George Harvie describes the response to heavy snowfall in the region last week as a “recent failure of provincial highway winter maintenance.”
He says some drivers from Delta were stranded in their cars for up to 10 hours, while those in other parts of the region have told media that 45-minute commutes turned into 12 hours of gridlock.
Harvie says it’s “very concerning” that while the transportation system was failing, some commuters were still trying to enter it.
As such, he calls for a review of the emergency alerting system to take place in order to notify regional residents when the provincial highway system is out of service.
The Transportation Ministry says it is reviewing the events of last Tuesday to determine if there are additional measures that can be taken in future weather events.
It says in a statement that heavy snow and winds blowing up to 40 km/h challenged deployment of salt or abrasives.
The ministry referred Harvie’s suggestion about using the emergency alert system in such situations to Emergency Management BC.
Alert Ready, a system the province uses to notify residents via cellphones and broadcasters, is currently in place for use during flooding, wildfires, tsunamis and Amber Alerts.
“Effective use of this resource would deter people from entering the provincial transportation system and adding more traffic volume to an already failing system,” Harvie says in the letter.
It’s vital that the snow response plan for provincial highways and crossing of the Fraser River is sufficient and that the necessary resources are in place to prevent traffic gridlock and the failure of B.C.’s transportation network, he says.
With increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, Harvie says the highway network must have adequate resources in place for winter maintenance.