Metro Vancouver mayor blasts B.C.’s snow response as ‘failure,’ demands action

The mayor of Delta, B.C. is adding his voice to the chorus of criticism about Metro Vancouver’s snow response after drivers were stranded for hours on the region’s roads, bridges and highways.

The bulk of the 10 – 15 centimetres of snow that fell last Tuesday came during the afternoon rush hour. Crashes, closures and chaos ensued.

In a letter to Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, George Harvie describes what happened as a “failure,” laying the blame on the province.

“It is vital that the snow response plan for provincial highways and crossings of the Fraser River is sufficient and that the necessary resources are in place to prevent traffic gridlock and the failure of our provincial transportation system,” the letter says.

“With increasing unpredictable weather patterns, B.C.’s provincial transportation network must have the necessary preparations in place with adequate resources for winter maintenance,” Harvie wrote.

Delta’s mayor has two demands. First, he is calling for a review of B.C.’s contract with Mainroad Group, which is contracted to maintain the Lower Mainland’s highways.

Second, he is asking the province to review the use of its emergency alert system, including the possibility of expanding it to include instances when major highways or bridges are closed. The system can currently be used to send a mobile alert to British Columbians about extreme weather events, a change that was ushered in after the deadly heat dome and devastating floods. 

“Many Delta residents were stuck in gridlock on our provincial transportation network for upwards of nine or 10 hours. It is very concerning that, while the transportation network was failing, commuters were still continuing to try to enter the transportation system,” Harvie writes.

“Effective use of this resource would deter people from entering the provincial transportation system and adding more traffic volume to an already failing system.”

The letter comes as more snow is in the forecast for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.