Your City Guide to Snow and Ice

December 14th, 2009 @ 9:26am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

With the first snowfall of the season cities in the area are bracing themselves for the white, wintery months ahead. Each year it seems as though citizens and businesses alike forget how to prepare for the snow — sidewalks go unswept and car tires spin and squeal along the icy roads outside our house. The job of removing snow and clearing traversable passages for pedestrians and vehicles alike is not solely the responsibility of the city.

Here’s how you can do your part, as advised by the City of Vancouver:

Photo credit: Tyler Ingram on Flickr

City of Vancouver – Public Responsibility

  • Shovelling snow: All Vancouver property owners and occupants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks that surround their property by 10 am on the morning following a snowfall, seven days a week. This responsibility is detailed under Section 76 of the “Streets and Traffic Bylaw” No. 2849.
  • Property owners and occupants who fail to remove snow and ice, as required by the by-law, may be fined, or the City may, without further notice, clear the snow or ice from the sidewalk and bill the owners or occupants for the costs incurred. This charge may include labour and materials as well as any administration, fringe benefits and overhead costs.

  • Help others: The City encourages everyone to clear their sidewalks and help others who can’t. Please make arrangements for someone to clear your sidewalk of snow and ice if you are away or are unable to clear it yourself.
  • Helpful hints and safety tips: If the storm is over, the City has plowed, and snow begins to melt, please clear the snow around the catch basin in the gutter fronting your property. This will help the melt water runoff into the storm sewer system, and reduce flooding problems.
  • Helpful hints and safety tips: Warm-up and stretch before shoveling. Choose a snow shovel that is right for you. Push the snow instead of lifting.
  • Helpful hints and safety tips: If your car is on a major street, move it (if possible) to a side street. This will help City staff in plowing major arterial streets more effectively.
  • Read more on the City of Vancouver website…
  • Other Cities, Snow Preparedness

  • The City of Surrey has a Snow & Ice problem hotline that you can call or email.
  • The City of New Westminster has its Snow Removal & Emergency WeatherManagement information online.
  • The City of Burnaby has outlined roles of the public, community, and the City on their website when it comes to Snow & Ice Control.
  • The City of Richmond has an online Weather Readiness Overview.
  • The City of North Vancouver has an online resource for Snow Preparedness & Clearing.
  • The District of North Vancouver has Snow & Ice Removal tips online along with emergency resources.
  • Things will be warming up towards the end of the week so we can think of this first snowfall as a practice run for now. Please feel free to reference these tips in the future or visit your city’s official website to read about their winter weather plans.

    Ice Cream for the Holidays

    December 11th, 2009 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The snow has stopped falling outside and although a cool treat may be the last thing on your wind-chilled mind, I have a something sweet to offer a few readers that just might warm up their day.

    If I had a million flavours If I had a million flavours If I had a million flavours

    Ben & Jerry’s has given me 5 pints of ice cream to give away in the hopes that people will consider ice cream as a holiday party host/hostess gift this season. The idea is that sure, you could show up with wine or crackers but sometimes the sweet surprise of Chunky Monkey, If I had 1,000,000 Flavours, or Cherry Garcia can light up any event. You can give the ice cream as a gift, keep it for yourself, or donate it to someone you think would really appreciate the treat this season.

    To enter, just leave a comment or re-tweet this post and I’ll draw 5 winners on Monday. The pints of Ben & Jerry’s (in free coupon form) will then be mailed so that you can select your own flavours and pick them up whenever you like over the holidays. It’s just a small token of appreciation from me to you as you’ve helped have such a great year — and there’s even more things like this to come. Have a great weekend everyone!

    Update: My winners are… Erin Maher, Kate T, Gloria, Robert, and Heather. I’ll send you each an email shortly to get your details. Congratulations!

    Link Fest: Mid-December Event Roundup

    December 11th, 2009 @ 12:21pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Nestled up in my home office I no longer see the North Shore mountains outside my window as I did yesterday morning. The view has been replaced with plump grey clouds, back-lit by the winter sunshine. Snow has been sprinkling down ever-so-lightly this morning as is evidenced by the slippery white tracks that have stuck to the quiet West End street outside my door. With only 13 more sleeps until Christmas the City is at that midway point — bustling with holiday shoppers yet muffled as many stay indoors to evade the nose-tingling cold.

    From the North Shore
    Photo credit: kennymatic on Flickr

    If you are planning on heading out over the next week or so, this week’s Link Fest has some ways to pass the time which are fun, for a good cause, or an inexpensive way to share some holiday joy with your family.

  • Head over to the Sutton Place Hotel between now and December 31st to view their Home for the Holidays Christmas tree gallery & support Canuck Place.
  • Canuck Place Childrens Hospice also has a Precious Gifts campaign on their website this season.
  • Breakfast with Santa happens again tomorrow at Canada Place but it’s completely sold out. Proceeds from this event support the Strathcona Community Centre’s Food Security for Children program.
  • The sails at Canada Place are lit up every morning and every evening in a holiday light show until the end of the year. If you are able to snap some photos, please feel free to add them to the Miss604 Flickr Pool and I’ll showcase them on my site.
  • Operation Red Nose is in full swing this season. Plan ahead for a safe trip home from your holiday festivities.
  • The inaugural 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon happens all day tomorrow with Blenz in Yaletown as the event’s home base.
  • Our friends at BraveNewCode are hosting a holiday food drive. Since they are located in Chilliwack, BC and Hamilton, ON they will be splitting the funds raised and purchasing holiday meals in each of their communities.
  • Megaphone Magazine’s Joyful Voices fundraising drive is on now. “Megaphone gives homeless and low-income people a chance to be heard, whether it’s by being a vendor, writing an article, or having their issues covered in a story.”
  • The new LilliQ Cafe (1268 Pacific Blvd) hosts the Yaletown Christmas Market happening tomorrow, December 12th and also on the 13th from 10:00am until 4:00pm.
  • Always an energetic show, you can catch Uzume Taiko tonight and tomorrow at the Roundhouse in Yaletown.
  • Meet up with Chef Rob Feenie at Cookworks on Broadway as he shares some recipes from the new book, Vancouver Cooks 2.
  • Enjoy a night of cabaret with A Midwinter Romance, one night only on December 18th.
  • Consider doing some of your shopping in the West End as local businesses support and join’s Warming Hearts Campaign.
  • Bright Nights in Stanley Park are back with light displays, food, and of course the miniature train. This event once again supports the Burn Fund.
  • There is a Holiday Market tomorrow, December 12th, at the Croatian Cultural Centre. Read more about holiday markets every weekend throughout the seasons at
  • Update: There is an open house over at BOB (Building Opportunities in Business) on December 16th from 4:00pm – 7:00pm at 163 East Pender. “Please bring socks or a small donation. Funds will go to BOB’s newly employed for food until their first paycheck.” Hat tip to Lorraine for the heads up about this.
  • There are also plenty of events for all at local community centres including everything from gingerbread house building and more meet n’ greets with Santa. You can check out full event listings on the City’s community centre websites.

    As always, should you have a community event that you would like to promote on, please feel free to contact me.

    New Observation Area at YVR

    December 10th, 2009 @ 11:03am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Recently the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) completed its new, free, and public Observation Area. I was invited to come and check it out a while back but since I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve been at YVR for many other reasons lately. I was finally able to take the Canada Line out yesterday and explore the renovated and Olympic-ified Domestic Terminal.

    YVR Domestic Terminal

    Located on level four of the Domestic terminal, you can get to the Observation Area by heading straight back to the food court and up the escalators located near the windows. From there you can explore their mini aviation interpretive centre including oodles of information about YVR, the history of flight in BC, Sea Island, the Musqueam people (as Sea Island is their land), and of course all you wanted to know about airplanes and airports.

    Sea Island Airport Administration Building (1940s)
    Vancouver Archives Item #: Air P113

    The first thing I did was push some buttons on the scale model of Sea Island. Each button lights up little bulbs that highlight a runway, terminal, roadway or area of interest on the map.

    YVR Observation Area YVR Observation Area

    Three touch-screen video podiums guide you through quizzes and videos such as a look at the First Nations art around the airport — most of which is behind security lines so this is a good chance to check it out. Other videos include the history of flight in BC, job shadowing with people such as the wildlife manager, air traffic control, and various ground crew workers. The biggest hit so far is the video “Follow My Bag” that gives you a suitcase’s view of its trip through the belly of the YVR luggage handling system.

    YVR Observation Area

    Along the windows which face the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver Island, there are information boards that guide you through things like RADAR, types of airplanes, and what all those short vehicles are doing as they whiz past, following the painted lines on the concrete. There are also eight telescopes at various height levels so that you can spot bags being loaded, view passengers through windows, or actually peer into the cockpit of an arriving plane.

    YVR Observation Area

    I also spotted some solar panels on the roof of the domestic terminal and was told they are used to heat water in the terminals. These have actually been there since 2003 and heat 800-gallons of hot water every hour. Another thing I discovered was that what my family used to call the “golf ball” out between runways is actually something called the golf ball. It is a crucial component to the RADAR system, communicating information up to the air traffic control tower.

    YVR Observation Area YVR Observation Area

    Back over at the video kiosk, I could click on WebTrak and see a live map graphic of planes currently in the air over the region. With a 10 minute delay you can actually see which flights are where, a system that is helpful when it comes to noise concerns. If a big jet flies over your house and wakes everyone up, you can go on WebTrak, see the flight path and make your report to YVR.


    YVR also scored the “BC Explorer“, a flight simulator that has made the rounds across the globe to showcase our province. With the joystick you can “fly” over the province and “land” in various communities where interactive and informational videos will play, to educate you a bit about the region you chose.

    YVR Observation Area YVR Observation Area

    YVR Observation Area

    The 500 square-meter Observation Area is an extension of the food court so you can shop, grab a bite to eat, sit on one of the 150 seats, and hang out while awaiting a flight or just as an afternoon outing. There’s also free wifi everywhere in YVR so you can sit by the windows, watch plans come and go, and get some work done on your laptop. There are a lot of history components in the displays, which instantly draw me in, but I couldn’t help imagining the sunsets you must be able to catch from that towering view.

    YVR Observation Area

    I profiled Flight Path Park back in 2007 because it was a favourite of my niece and nephews but now they have another place to get their fill of free airplane fun, indoors. With those floor to ceiling windows that face directly West, you can have lunch or simply some fun playtime while towering over the tarmac — watching as planes touch the ground and reach the sky.

    YVR Observation Area

    Stop by the Observation Area within the next few weeks and you can enter to win a behind the scenes tour of YVR for you and 3 friends or family members. The tour will take you down on the tarmac and around baggage loops with an all-access guide. You can also download the entry form online but it will need to be dropped off in person.

    Favourite Places on Google Maps: Vancouver Edition

    December 10th, 2009 @ 9:18am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Google has just launched their “Favourite Places on Google Maps” for the first time in Canada and they have profiled spots around Vancouver. The favourites are all marked on the maps with little maple leaf pins and have been hand-picked by local experts.

    View Rebecca Bollwitt’s Favorite Places in a larger map

    This includes venues and destinations submitted by: Premier Gordon Campbell, Olympic Gold Medallist Ross Rebagliati, Olympic Gold & Silver Medallist Simon Whitfield, Iron Chef Champion Rob Feenie, Singer-songwriter & breast cancer survivor Bif Naked, Children’s book writer Kit Pearson, Monte Clark of the Monte Clark Gallery, Public Policy Entrepreneur David Eaves, and yours truly – Rebecca Bollwitt of

    John Lee from Lonely Planet also provided some recommended destinations last October.

    The Google Maps “Local Experts” mashups can all be searched and found on their Favourite Places site. The global database includes Tony Hawk’s favourite places in Manhattan, Kevin Rose’s top spots in San Francisco, and Mockmoon’s best venues in Tokyo.

    I was honored to be asked by Google to be a part of this project. We have had a great relationship over the last year or so and they certainly know my site’s reach better than I do. They have also referred to me as the “Best Blogger” in Vancouver, which is either a reference to my Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver award or a name they have given me. Either way, I am humbled by the opportunity to be among such a great group of people and especially to have the chance to showcase some of my favourite local places.

    These are just a few of my top picks as I tried to expand the scope a little bit and go off the beaten tourist path. Stanley Park will always be the key to my heart but I love many other parks and beaches in the region. If you could make up a Google Map of all your favourite places in the Lower Mainland (or if you already have) what would they be?

    Nutcracker Ballet Ticket Giveaway

    December 9th, 2009 @ 3:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The Goh Ballet is presenting the world premiere of The Nutcracker December 17th to 20th, 2009 at the Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver.


    Featuring Principal Dancers from The National Ballet of Canada and the choreography of Anna-Marie Holmes, it’s great to see another Christmas classic coming to a Vancouver stage this season. The performance also includes students from across the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, a real magician, and all new sets and costumes. There will be a show each evening along with two matinee shows on the 19th and 20th.

    Tickets range from $28 to $75 and are available online from Ticketmaster. I have also been given tickets for a contest on my site so that a lucky reader and their guest can experience this magical evening.

    To enter to win tickets to The Nutcracker (to see Clara, Drosselmeyer, the Mouse King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy) please leave a comment below noting one of your most special Christmas memories. Hopefully the winner of the tickets will be able to make some great new memories that include a night out with a loved one and The Nutcracker.

    Update: Thank you to everyone for sharing such amazing Christmas memories. I drew a winner at random this afternoon and it was Kelsey. Congratulations!

    The winner will receive two tickets for the performance Thursday, December 17 at 7:30pm and will be chosen at random December 15th. If they are unable to use the tickets, I will draw another winner within 24 hours.

    Hope in Shadows Calendar for 2010

    December 9th, 2009 @ 1:50pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    For the seventh year the Hope in Shadows calendar campaign is supporting residents of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Rising above it all in what is seen as Canada’s most downtrodden neighbourhood, residents sign up to become licensed sellers of the calendars once a year which feature local photography of their community.

    In the summer of 2009 a photography contest was held for residents of the Downtown Eastside. Run by the Pivot Legal Society, Hope in Shadows distributed disposable cameras to 200 residents so they could snap images of the community from their perspective and not be depicted only as addicts or victims. The winning photos have been printed in the calendar that is being sold by residents out on the streets of Vancouver this winter.

    The calendars are $20 and $10 of that goes directly to the licensed seller. The rest of the proceeds go towards operating costs and Hope in Shadows programs.

    I bought mine from Catherine this afternoon outside of Waterfront SkyTrain station. She told me that she suffers from depression and severe anxiety and that getting out to sell the calendars is a highlight for her. This is her second year selling Hope in Shadows and she said it’s helped her immensely to get out into the community like this and has grown as an individual.

    Hope in Shadows 2010

    Big support this year once again came from Vancity who has made several of its branches depots for the calendars so that sellers don’t have to lug them around all day. They have also been a core sponsor since the beginning of this project seven years ago.

    For 2010, 16,000 calendars have been printed (which is up from 13,000 sold out last year and 9,000 which sold out the year before that). The calendars have some of the most compelling and authentic images of our city and to top it off they are all 100% carbon neutral.

    You can view the winning photos themselves over at the Vancouver Public Library’s main branch in the Moat Gallery throughout the month of December. There will also be a book reading tomorrow night (Thursday, December 10th, 2009) of the award-winning Hope in Shadows book. This is a part of the Robson Reading series and will take place at the UBC Bookstore in Robson Square (800 Robson Street) at 7:00pm.

    Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows Hope in Shadows 2009 by hopeinshadows

    Spot a DTES resident around town this winter, purchase a Hope in Shadows calendar from them for $20, and help make a difference in someone’s life.

    You can also find Hope in Shadows on Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter if you would like more information.

    The Art of Giving at Grace Gallery

    December 9th, 2009 @ 10:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Photo: sokazo on Flickr

    Grace Gallery on Main street will open its doors to a one-of-a-kind art sale next Wednesday for the Art of Giving showcase.

    The Art of Giving is about support and celebration. Featuring some of Vancouver’s top artists who’ve graciously agreed to sell for a price point of $400 or less in our first ever Cash & Carry original artwork sale.

    All proceeds from the event will support Our Social Fabric. This non-profit in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside specializes in textile collection, recycling & re-manufacturing. It also provides employment & social reintegration opportunities for DTES residents.

    Local artists who are donating their work for the sale include: Raif Adelberg, Ronan Boyle, Bienvenido Cruz, Andy Dixon, Michael Doehle, Christopher Fadden, Angela Fama, Indigo, Kris Krug, Malcolm Levy, Bobby Mathieson, Jennifer Mawby, Chad Murray, Neal Nolan, Terri Potratz, Stacy Sakai, Philippe Sokazo.

    I’ve been a big fan of many of these people for years and it’s so great to see them offering up their pieces for this exceptional cause. The event takes place December 16th from 7:00pm until 11:00pm at Grace Gallery, 1898 Main Street in Vancouver. Food for the event is being sponsored and supplied by Nuba Lebanese Cuisine as well as ABSOLUT Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

    Attendees are asked to bring scarves to the event for donation as well. You can RSVP by emailing