A mass of frigid air that has settled over the Lower Mainland after yesterday’s heavy snowfall has advocates for some of the region’s most vulnerable concerned. Nicole Mucci with the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver says the weather is a “life and death” situation for people experiencing risk as they face risks from hypothermia to frostbite. She says it could also force some to choose between groceries and turning on the heat or buying warm clothes. Additional overnight shelters and warming centres are open in communities including Vancouver, Victoria, and Chilliwack.
Airline companies are offering some options to those willing to change or cancel their holiday plans, after nearly 30 centimetres of snow caused mass cancellations of flights at Vancouver’s airport. WestJet says those with flights booked between Tuesday and December 26th can “proactively cancel” and receive a full refund by filling out an online form. Air Canada says it will offer a so-called “extended good will policy” for those who reschedule or cancel reservations for Vancouver flights up until Christmas Day. It says people can rebook at no charge up until New Year’s Eve, or receive a voucher for future travel.
Three homes in North Vancouver were damaged when a bus driver lost control navigating a snowy road Monday night. RCMP say the bus struck several parked cars and hydro poles before coming to a stop. Authorities say the bus didn’t make direct contact with any homes, but that several homes were damaged by parked vehicles as a result of the collisions. TransLink says there were no passengers on the bus at the time, and that the driver was not injured in the crash.
Residents of Merritt in need of emergency care were forced to make their way to Kamloops after the local emergency department was closed yesterday due to a shortage of doctors. The emergency department at Nicola Valley Hospital is normally open 24-7 but services were unavailable for more than four hours in the middle of the day. Instead, patients were directed to Royal Inland Hospital. Since the beginning of 2022, B-C has seen consistent closures of rural hospital emergency departments as a result of staffing shortages or the inability to cover someone’s shift due to illness.
Another Fraser Valley farm has been struck with the highly contagious avian flu in a year of severe infection. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the virus was confirmed yesterday on a commercial poultry farm in Langley. More than two-and-a-half million flocks have been infected this year in B-C. While the virus affects birds, there is no evidence it can be passed to human who consume poultry products.
Island Health is thanking a four-by-four club for helping stranded health workers make their way to hospitals and care centres during Tuesday’s snow storm. The legion of drivers uses a Facebook page to coordinate rides during major weather events. Nick Poulopoulos, who is part of the crew, says he had traversed dozens of treacherous side roads and taken a trip up the Malahat highway to get nurses and others to their shifts on time. Island Health CEO Kathy McNeill says the health authority couldn’t take care of its patients and clients without the good deed.