A walkway leading to Maple Ridge city hall is still covered in ice Wednesday.

A walkway leading to Maple Ridge city hall is still covered in ice Wednesday.

Cold snap continues, salt needed in Maple Ridge

Most sidewalks around city hall had a narrow path cleared, although stretch outside council chambers still had ice.

The City of Maple Ridge is not giving away road salt at its fire halls, as those did in Vancouver, before running out.

Maple Ridge made the announcement on its Facebook page Wednesday after a furore in Vancouver, where icy sidewalks are stranding citizens, with no warm up in the weather coming for at least a few days.

“We have been receiving numerous calls from the public asking if we are offering free salt to the public.  We do not have any salt available at the fire department,” the city said on its Facebook page.

Major roads were cleared within a day or two of the sudden snowfall on New Year’s Eve, but side streets and sidewalks are proving tougher to tangle.

Many residents and businesses are scrambling to remove the ice that’s been packed on over the holidays, and a shortage of salt isn’t helping.

Customers have trying to get salt for sidewalks since before Christmas, says Alex Yakovyshenko, general manager at Haney Builders’ Supplies.

“We’ve been trying to get some, and we’ve not been very successful,” he said.

The store has been out of salt for about a week.

“We’ll get some … and it’s gone in half an hour.”

The demand has been there since the first snowfall in mid-December. In the middle of this week, his store was still getting 40 to 50 calls a day asking about salt.

People also were coming to Maple Ridge from Vancouver for road salt when snow fell there earlier.

It’s the same at Canadian Tire, where owner Bryan Hutton said people are buying anything winter related, including snow shovels and car ice scrapers, and road salt.

“I received 11 skids of salt at 1 p.m. By 3 p.m., we were out. It was like having a door-crasher,” sale.

“There’s more salt on order, but I’m not sure exactly where we’re going to get it. There seems to be an extreme shortage in everyone who produces this.

Canadian Tire tracks weather to anticipate customer demand and Hutton says the cool temperatures are not going away anytime soon, even though Environment and Natural Resources is calling for rain and temperatures of 4 C by Sunday.

“We think this weather going to remain cold for a little while longer.”

Hutton said that the sidewalks around his store have been shoveled.

“We clear ours. It’s part of the contract we have with our plower.”

Under Maple’ Ridge’s Highway and Traffic bylaw, residents and business owners have to clear the snow from their sidewalks by 10 a.m. the day after a snowfall.

The City of Maple Ridge gives extensive explanation on its website on how to cope with snow and explains how the city is supposed to clear snow from sidewalks outside its own properties.

The priority is to keep sidewalks near emergency facilities clear, followed by city hall and key parks and leisure facilities.

By Wednesday, four days after the New Year’s Eve storm, most sidewalks around city hall had a narrow path cleared, although stretch outside council chambers still had ice, covered with salt to melt it.

The city also has a Snow Angel program, in which neighbours help clear their sidewalks.

So far this year, the City of Maple Ridge has issued only one ticket for not shoveling snow, during the first bout of cold weather in mid December. Currently, it’s sending out letters informing people of the bylaw.

“We’ll see how people respond to that,” said Frank Quinn, general manager of public works.

“It’s unusual circumstances. I don’t think we’ve seen snowfall like this in several years.”

The city wants to be reasonable in how it approaches the issue, he added. The best thing is to clear the snow before it gets packed into ice, a process that can take place within hours.

The return of the cold weather has seen the reactivation of the extreme weather alert in Maple Ridge, by which B.C. Housing pays the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries shelter to put open up extra beds whenever the night time temperature dips to 0 C.

This week, about 13 or 14 people a night were sleeping on the mats in the dining hall area, said shelter executive-director Darrell Pilgrim.

That’s about half the number during the previous cold snap in early December. Pilgrim said some of the people staying there earlier have either found housing or gone into drug treatment.

People who are using the extreme weather mats can only stay at the shelter from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. but the residents staying in the 30-bed emergency shelter can stay indoors all day.


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