Fraser Valley residents seek relief as another winter storm bears down
CHILLIWACK -- Another blast of icy weather is set to hit the Lower Mainland.
A winter storm warning was put into effect Saturday morning for the Fraser Valley. Flurries and freezing rain are forecast for Chilliwack and Hope.
Environment Canada is predicting 5 to 10 centimetres of snow, which will transition freezing rain into the night.
Officials are asking drivers to postpone all non-essential travel until conditions improve.
The wintry weather has been relentless in Chilliwack for days.
Maintenance crews are focusing their efforts on arterial roadways, but many major routes are still covered in snow.
The majority of side streets have gone unplowed and unsalted this week.
Temperatures have been rising during the day and have thawed some of the built-up snow, raising concerns about black ice forming overnight.
Several drivers could be seen struggling to navigate the roads near downtown Chilliwack Saturday morning.
One man and his dog got stuck while turning a corner, but within minutes, a crowd of neighbours began digging and pushing to help him get his vehicle out of an icy area.
“I think it’s fabulous, being new to this neighbourhood, seeing how everyone comes together. It’s fabulous, it’s great,” said Wendy Docherty, one of the neighbours who came to help.
Those kinds of struggles have become a regular occurrence in Chilliwack this week.
Some residents are now asking the city to step up.
“I think they’re doing the best they can, however, they don’t have enough plows and things like that,” said Judy Weston, as she plowed her driveway for the fourth time this week.
Similar observations have also been made in Abbotsford.
“Typically, this street is in much better shape than it is,” said Jurgen Schilbach.
Schilbach says he hasn’t seen as many plows on the road as the last time the area was hit by a winter storm.
“The last few days have been cold with snow. When we drive it’s very scary,” said Nash Sahota, outside his Abbotsford home.
Former Abbotsford Mayor George Peary says he can sympathize with the tough decisions the city has had to make when it comes to resources.
“Certainly we have to give priority to the transport routes for the public transportation, the bus system,” said Peary.
Most municipalities in the Lower Mainland follow the same policy.
Despite that strategy, many of the major routes, including Highway 1, remained a problem this weekend.
“Cars everywhere," said Docherty, describing the scene. "People in the ditch, on the side, on their roofs. Just abandoned for days, since, like Monday or Tuesday. The same vehicles and more."
Representatives from every major municipality in the Lower Mainland say they’ve been working around the clock for the last week.
“The reality is you have to balance service levels up against costs," said Peary. "Everybody wants to pay as small an amount of taxes as possible and yet they want the maximum amount of service."
Many Lower Mainland residents are hoping there won’t be another snow day for a while.
“It’s a novelty for a day or two, but that’s it,” said Schilbach.
As the snow begins to thaw, officials are reminding drivers that ice will remain a problem.
They’re asking everyone to remain vigilant until the conditions improve.