City of White Rock crews apply brine to waterfront parking lots in preparation for freezing temperatures and snow. (City of White Rock photo)

17 seek shelter on first night of cold snap

‘Bit of a mystery’ to numbers recorded at White Rock’s extreme-weather site

The cold snap that hit the Lower Mainland this weekend didn’t prompt an immediate jump in those seeking overnight warmth at White Rock’s extreme-weather shelter.

Shelter co-ordinator Joan McMurtry said Monday that just 17 guests spent the night Sunday, when overnight temperatures dipped to almost -4 C.

“We’ve been up to 22 within the last week or two,” McMurtry said. “It’s a bit of a mystery to me. Last year at this time, we were doing 25-28 people – and this is colder.”

McMurtry couldn’t predict if lower temperatures forecast for overnight Monday and Tuesday – the wind chill making it feel close to -10 C and -13 C on those nights, respectively, according to Environment Canada – would drive more people to the shelter, which operates from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. at Star of the Sea Hall.

She said some faces seen this season are familiar, while others who had accessed a bed previously have not returned.

“At best, you hope they find housing,” she said.

READ MORE: As temperature dips, numbers rise at White Rock extreme-weather shelter

READ MORE: Snow on its way to the Lower Mainland, says Environment Canada forecasters

Meanwhile, efforts to keep the city’s roads as safe as possible through the freezing weather had crews out clearing overnight Sunday, communications manager Donna Kell said.

They worked from 9 p.m. Sunday till 3 a.m. Monday on priority and major roads, then returned to the field at 6 a.m. to tackle the rest of the road network, she said. As of Monday afternoon, all of the city’s roads were deemed safe for travel.

Next up is another round of brining, Kell said, to prepare for additional snow expected Thursday and Friday.

“Road accessibility and safety are priorities. The City of White Rock has a plan in place to make our 80 kilometres of roadway safer for travel during winter conditions,” Mayor Darryl Walker said in a release.

Snow remains in the forecast, starting today (Wednesday), followed by snow or rain on Thursday and Friday. Rain is forecast for the weekend.

White Rock’s fleet of snow-clearing equipment includes four dump trucks, two backhoes, one brine unit, one walk-behind snow blower and a salt shed.

Surrey’s arsenal includes 62 pieces of snow-clearing equipment, 17,000 tonnes of salt and an online plow tracker. The latter is to help residents keep tabs on where snow trucks are and which road have been plowed.

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