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New Westminster civic facilities reopen but it’s another Snow Day for students

New West could see “hazardous” road conditions if freezing rain and snow fall this afternoon
Traffic was light in downtown New West on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s another snow day for many students across the Lower Mainland – including New Westminster.

The New Westminster School District announced early this morning that public schools will remain closed today due to freezing rain forecasts and continued hazardous road conditions.

Post-secondary institutions, including Douglas College’s New West campus, will also remain closed.

The City of New Westminster closed all of its facilities, including city hall and all recreation facilities, yesterday because of snow.

For today (Thursday, Jan. 18), all city facilities – with the exception of Century House, the youth centre and the Cycle Studio – will reopen. All registered programs and drop-in sessions are cancelled for today.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Patrick Johnstone provided an update on Facebook about the City of New Westminster’s plans.

“The snow looks like it is slowing down, almost on schedule, but we are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

Johnstone said city crews had been working non-stop since 10 p.m. on Tuesday night to keep the roads as clear as they could, addressing significant spot issues on some steeper hills, and even closing some hill where needed.

“The rate of accumulation was such that they covered Priority 1 routes, but barely got a start on Priority 2,” he wrote. “For the rest of the routes, it is catch-up time, so we are keeping full crews on through the night.”

According to Johnstone, every piece of equipment available will be out clearing and salting as needed. While city officials expected roads to be much clearer by Thursday morning, he noted that another weather challenge may be on the horizon.

“There is also a significant risk of freezing rain tomorrow afternoon or evening,” he said Wednesday night. “On top of what we have, this could make for some severe driving conditions.”

Johnstone encouraged residents to consider whether they need to drive on Thursday, noting that road conditions later in the day would likely be worse than they were in the morning.

As for city facilities and programs, Johnstone said all facilities (except Century House) would be open today but they would have “skeleton crews” on staff.

“Public programs and activities will be suspended for the day,” he said. “We fully anticipate a return to normal programming in all facilities on Friday, Jan. 19. Also, most of our waste collection crews are on snow duty.”

Over at TransLink, it’s reporting that most of its services were running smoothly Thursday morning. Its update stated that SkyTrain is running to all stations with near-regular service on all three lines and HandyDART is prioritizing customers with medical appointments, work, or school.

As for buses, TransLink reports that there is bus service on every route, with many 60-foot articulated buses having been swapped out for 40-foot buses. It encourages its customers to build in extra travel time, dress appropriately for the weather, and check their route by signing up for transit alerts, following it on X (formerly Twitter) @TransLink, or calling TransLink customer information at 604-953-3333.

“TransLink continues to prepare for more snow and adverse conditions later today,” said TransLink’s Thursday morning update. “Weather and road conditions change quickly, and there may be service delays this evening as a result.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a freezing rain warning, which could affect parts of the Lower Mainland this afternoon through Friday afternoon.

“A Pacific frontal system combined with lingering cold air under outflow conditions will produce an extended period of freezing rain,” said the warning. “Snow will develop first late this afternoon over western sections of the Fraser Valley, then transition to freezing rain late in the evening.”

According to Weatherhood, which has a weather monitoring station in New Westminster, it was -1 Celsius in New West at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 – but it actually felt like -8. You can find New West-specific weather on the Weatherhood page on the Record’s website.