Cold Weather Response

Warming Centres

Emergency overnight shelters are open and a daytime warming centre is open from 12pm to 8pm today (Jan 5) and 8am to 8pm tomorrow (Jan 6). The warming centre is located at Cook Street Village Activity Centre at 380 Cook Street. Pets allowed (if well behaved). The warming centre will remain open as long as extreme cold weather persists.

Emergency overnight shelter and daytime warming centre locations are updated at VictoriaHomelessness.ca

COVID-19 protocols are in place and masks must be worn indoors. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided upon check-in.

Update January 6The Sanctuary Youth Centre is open Jan. 6 from 4pm to 8pm for youth 22 and under. 

Snow and Ice Response

The City of Victoria closely monitors weather forecasts to prepare for winter storms. Using dedicated weather services and pavement temperature sensors, we monitor the conditions on the streets and sidewalks to determine what action to take to minimize ice, snow accumulation and slippery conditions.

When cold temperatures are anticipated, City crews begin to brine roads to prevent icy conditions.  When snow starts to accumulate, crews begin clearing “first priority” roads, such as emergency routes, hills, and bridge decks and “first priority” sidewalks, including downtown transit stops, wheelchair ramps, and sidewalks fronting City properties downtown.

After first priority routes are addressed, Crews work to remove ice and snow from second and third priority roads and sidewalks. Learn more.

Help Keep our Sidewalks Safe When it Snows:

There are over 450 kilometres of sidewalks in Victoria and a community effort is required to keep our sidewalks safe. Residents and businesses are reminded that under the Streets and Traffic Bylaw, they are required to clear snow and ice from sidewalks in front of their property by 10 a.m. each day. Residents with garbage pick-up on days when it is snowing are also asked to keep pathways clear or put their bins on the curb to reduce the risk of staff injuries.

Residents are encouraged to make arrangements with neighbours in advance to clear each other’s sidewalks in the event they are away from home or work when it snows. Many of our community members have difficulty clearing snow and ice. Your neighbour may need your help, so lend a hand if you can.

Please do not shovel or plough snow onto city streets or sidewalks. It slows snow removal and can be dangerous. Those who do not comply with the Bylaw may face a fine of $125 per ticketed offence (per day). A ticket can be issued up to six months after an offence has occurred. 

Check out these helpful information sheets on the roles and responsibilities of residents and businesses in Victoria when it snows.

Snow Clearing Tools to Have on Hand

Snow clearing tools for Victoria businesses and households include shovels, sand, and environmentally sensitive ice melt products that remove snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways. **Please avoid using rock salt, as it is harmful to concrete sidewalks, pets’ paws and the environment. Ice melt products should be applied only moderately to avoid ice accumulation.

Ice and Snow in Bike Lanes

Downtown protected bike lanes will also be brined in advance of snow or ice and will be addressed in order of overall City priority. Cyclists should monitor changing weather conditions. If snow can’t be cleared immediately from bike lanes, they may be closed for safety reasons.

Protected bike lanes are cleared of snow using smaller equipment and do not take away resources from roadway maintenance. It is important to clear protected bike lanes as snow can build up on the curb. When the snow melts and then freezes, it can create black ice. This creates a hazardous condition for cyclists and pedestrians where protected bike lanes intersect crosswalks or bus stops.

Non-protected bike lanes are serviced by regular snow and ice roadway equipment at the time the route is plowed, salted or brined.

Prevent Flooding

Here are a few tips to keep your neighbourhood storm drains happy and help prevent flooding:
  • Clear snow and debris from storm drains
  • Create a channel to help water flow
  • If the drain can’t be cleared, or if you can’t tell the cause of the blockage, call our Public Works department at 250.361.0400
Learn more about flood prevention

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Victoria’s unseasonably cold temperatures can cause frozen or burst pipes and there are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening:

  • Seal off cold drafts in locations where water supply lines are located
  • Open interior doors and cabinets to allow heat from the house to warm unprotected pipes in cold areas
  • Keep your thermostat set for at least 15 degrees Celsius
  • Winterize outdoor taps
  • Regularly run water through your pipes through everyday use or leave a bathtub tap running at just a trickle to keep water flowing through the pipes
  • If you are going to be away for an extended period, arrange for somebody to check your home periodically

Signs that your pipes are frozen or are starting to freeze:

  • No water or very little water coming out of a faucet (check all faucets in your home)
  • Frost on internal pipes
  • Flooding water – frozen water can cause pipes to burst

If you experience a burst pipe:

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve and call a plumber. If you live in a townhome or condo, call the building owner or manager.

How to try to thaw a frozen pipe in your home:

  • If pipes are not in a confined space, heat the area with a hair dryer, heating pad, electric heater, hot water bottles or hot towels. It may take minutes to hours to thaw out the pipe. Do not use open flames or leave items unattended.
  • Contact Public Works if the water is still not flowing at 250.361.0400.

Emergency Kit

Now is also the time to refresh an emergency kit with a working flashlight, radio, new batteries, and to have plenty of food, essential medicine and extra blankets on hand. Learn more about the supplies residents and businesses need to cope for a minimum of three days in the event of a heavy snowfall or power outage at VictoriaReady.ca.