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Snow day shuts down Greater Victoria schools Wednesday

Students around the Capital Region woke up to a snow day Wednesday, unless their school was the University of Victoria.
Hillside Snowfall
A woman walks through heavy snow along Hillside Avenue near Hilside Mall.

Students around the Capital Region woke up to a snow day Wednesday, unless their school was the University of Victoria.

Environment Canada predicted 10 centimetres of snow to blanket the region, sparking the Greater Victoria and Saanich school districts to cancel classes. Royal Roads University and Camosun College also closed for the day. However, UVic students were expected to show up for classes.

“If transit is providing pretty much full service to its UVic routes, then we stay open,” said spokesperson Patty Pitts.

The university has only shut down twice in its 49-year existence.

Disgruntled students took to Twitter Wednesday morning to express their disdain.

“You can’t close Camosun and not UVic – come on, Victoria. Give me a break,” one student wrote.

“UVic has only closed twice due to weather since ‘63. Is the school run by Russians?” one student wrote.

“UVic stop trying to pretend we live in Alberta and can deal with 5 cm of snow. we live on an island, just call it a snow day,” another wrote.

By late Wednesday morning, only a handful of bus routes had been cancelled though B.C. Transit was advising passengers to expect delays due to slow traffic and higher than normal ridership.

Saanich police spokesperson Sgt. Dean Jantzen recommended that people stay off the roads, as public works crews were having a difficult time staying ahead of the heavy snow. “It’s a mess out there. The accumulations are significant, and our plow operators are out there doing banner work, but they’re still not getting ahead of it,” Jantzen said. “In other words, stay home if you can.”

Saanich has six dump trucks depositing salt and brine to try and keep roads from turning streets into ice rinks.

“We have all our equipment out. Most of the major and collector roads are in good shape,” said Colin Doyle, Saanich’s director of engineering. “Our major concern is if the salt and brine get diluted to the point where they’re no longer effective, so we’ll be out and continue to apply the mixture.”

Saanich has 140 kilometres of priority roads that it focuses its six trucks on. That means smaller, residential streets are at the mercy of the weather and even a little snow can make things quite slippery.

“Another reminder to drivers is the conditions are dramatically different between main roads and side streets,” Jantzen said. “Even a small incline becomes treacherous if the road is icy.”

The mixture of poor weather and slick roads on Tuesday and Wednesday didn’t result in any significant crashes, Jantzen said.

Most of the dozen or so incidents reported to police were minor, he said, and there had been no injuries reported either.

“That does speak to the fact that at least people are slowing down. These are not high speed impacts, thankfully,” he said.

The worst accident occurred during Tuesday evening rush hour. A Jeep travelling on Glanford Avenue lost control near Carey Road and struck a power pole.

The road was closed in that area for a couple hours as a precaution.

“A little bit of elevation combined with the temperature created some almost immediate slick conditions,” Jantzen said. “That one was caused entirely by someone who was impatient, trying to go around someone who was slow moving.”

CFB Esquimalt was also closed Wednesday, except for essential services.

After a heavy snowfall overnight Tuesday, Wednesday brought more snow and blowing winds. While the temperature hit a low of -13 C with the windchill during rush hour, it warmed up later in the day.

There was a 40 per cent chance of flurries expected Thursday night, after the *News’ deadline, according to Environment Canada.

For today (Friday), the early forecast called for an even smaller chance of flurries, with rain expected throughout the weekend.

– with files from Roszan Holmen


Check the website for up to date information on schools in Greater Victoria.

Check this website for information on schools on the Saanich Peninsula (north of Royal Oak).