So… You’re a Snow Angel – Are you coming North this Winter?

A snow angel, eh?  Apparently that’s what we’ve heard about you.  Are you coming North this winter?  Or are you staying South?  All snow angels are welcome here, why not come and stay with us and perhaps make some on the local mountains?  Or maybe even in Stanley Park or some of the beaches?

There’s really no telling what kind of winter we are in store for this upcoming year on the West Coast but with El Nino possibly bringing us warmer temperatures and perhaps even more sunny days this winter, we’ll take what we can get.  Anything but rain, please and thank you.  The local mountains should still have a fair amount of decent snow for all the skiers, snowboarders and even snowshoeing.  And, yes, you can make a snow angel on the top of a mountain, so make your mark!

All in the name of “being a kid” again, winter is an exciting time of year for us.  Lots and lots of activities happening in and around all of Vancouver.  Obviously, the best benefit to snow in Vancouver means fresh snow – and lots of it!  Vancouver’s nearby snow sports resorts. You don’t have to go to Whistler for skiing and snowboarding.  You can do both at nearby Mount Seymour or Grouse Mountain.

Here are some invaluable suggestions and tips as to how handle an “unusual” winter in Vancouver:

Just because Vancouver gets so little snow – That it’s such a rare event!  Our city is not always equipped to deal with snow on the same scale as other Canadian cities. In our nation’s capital of Ottawa, for example, snow removal, street cleaning, and sidewalk clearing in urban and commercial areas happen quickly and routinely throughout the winter season, making it easy to get around by car (with winter tires) or by foot, even with considerable snow on the ground.

Not so here in Vancouver! The rarity of snow makes it expensive for the city to buy and maintain a fleet of snow removal and street cleaning vehicles; most years those vehicles would never be used. Our city has some snow removal and street cleaning equipment, but when it snows, this equipment is used to clear only main roadways and streets that are main arteries into Downtown Vancouver. Our city can’t take proper care of side streets, alleys (where many locals in Vancouver park), residential streets, or sidewalks.  Should you decide to head into the local parks, you’ll definitely be able to make a snow angel at one of those before they start snow removal.

If the snow on the ground is sticking or temperatures are freezing or below freezing, expect snow and ice to create major traffic delays and limit street parking. Because we don’t drive on snow routinely, they often avoid driving on “snow days,” which makes public transit buses and trains crowded. Public transit (buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus) could also be delayed due to bad traffic and driving conditions.

It is highly recommended that you do not drive to the mountains unless you have proper winter tires on your car! As mentioned, in a snowstorm or its aftermath, local police may set up checkpoints on northern roads to check cars for snow tires and they will make you turn back if you don’t have them. Use public transit or take advantage of the free Grouse Mountain shuttle, which takes visitors to Grouse Mountain from downtown Vancouver.

If you feel like staying in or even braving the elements, here are some other ideas:

Aside from playing in the snow and making a snow angel, which is a novelty for a lot of Vancouverites and other guests from the Pacific Northwest, there are a lot of fun things to do when it snows in Vancouver:

  1.   Skate for free at the Robson Square Ice Rink in downtown Vancouver. Skate rentals are only $5.
  2.   If it’s too cold for outdoor skating, you can skate indoors at any Vancouver public indoor ice rink.
  3.   Visit the Vancouver Aquarium, which is open 365 days a year no matter the weather!
  4.   Enjoy downtown Vancouver shopping, including the indoor Pacific Centre Mall and luxury shopping along Alberni Street.
  5.   Visit some of Vancouver’s top museums & galleries – Vancouver Art Gallery and UBC Museum of Anthropology
  6.   Enjoy unusual indoor activities, like indoor rock climbing and trampolines: indoor winter activities for all ages.
  7.   Explore Granville Island – the famous Vancouver public market and its shops are indoors, although you will have to walk outside to visit different parts of the island. You can reach Granville Island by bus from downtown Vancouver or by False Creek Ferry (dress warmly for those short water crossings).

So now that we’ve filled your mind with not only things to do but some safety tips of how to get around Vancouver in the event of snow, we hope that you will come and stay with us.  After all, there is no place like “your home away from home”.