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Winter storm wreaks havoc on Cowichan Valley roads

Lots of traffic volume but no major incidents
Many took to walking as the snow began to accumulate in downtown Duncan Tuesday afternoon. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Snow fell across the Cowichan Valley and much of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland Tuesday, causing havoc on the roads and even some power outages.

“Heavy snowfall caused power outages impacting more than 50,000 customers,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott in a news release on Wednesday morning. “Crews worked throughout the night and have restored power to 30,000 customers.”

By 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 15,800 were still in the dark on Vancouver Island.

“Crews have experienced some delays in reaching trouble areas due to the poor road conditions and ferry cancellations. However, all available BC Hydro crews and contractor crews will continue to work around-the-clock until all power has been restored,” Scott added.

Snow adding weight to trees and branches was a main culprit, as the extra weight caused breakages and then falls onto the electrical equipment.

Meanwhile, drivers were encouraged by Emcon Services Inc. to stay home and off the roads if their vehicles were not equipped for the weather, but as the snow began during the middle of the work day, many had to get themselves home first.

The Malahat was a mess Tuesday afternoon after a semi-truck got stuck blocking northbound traffic near the South Shawnigan Lake Road turnoff.

Cars and trucks along the highway closer to Duncan’s core fared no better, as vehicles could be found in ditches dotting the highway, on Cobble Hill Road, near golf course hill, Osborne Bay Road, and Crofton Road among many others.

Despite the volume of traffic, no major incidents were reported.

RCMP did respond to 11 traffic incidents as a result of the storm between Nov. 29 and the early morning hours of Nov. 30.

“All of the events were minor in nature and there were no serious reported injuries,” said North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Sgt. Trevor Busch. “We would like to remind motorists to take extra caution while driving in winter conditions. It is very important to ensure that your vehicle is capable and properly equipped with appropriate tires.”

Fire crews were on alert but surprisingly not too busy, according to North Cowichan manager of fire and bylaw services Martin Drakeley.

“It started out like it was going to be busy and then the rain kicked in instead of the snow and it all petered out pretty quickly,” Drakeley said. “I think the last call was at 6:40 p.m.”

Digital creator @fuelforthesole moved to the Cowichan Valley from Ontario and the snow, as she told her followers Tuesday, was a bit of a culture shock.

“We grew up in London, Ontario which is the snow belt of south western Ontario and we would live with like four feet of snow for a big portion of the year and it was just normal, you know life went on and we just dealt with it,” she explained to her 45,000 followers on Instagram. “But now we live on Vancouver Island where it doesn’t snow but then sometimes it does and people really don’t know how to deal with it.”

She went on to acknowledge how there’s a lack of infrastructure in place to deal with snow on the Island and how it’s all relative. It certainly adds to her love of the region, however.

“It’s just a huge culture shock coming from literally almost anywhere else in Canada and coming to coastal B.C.”

Traffic is backed up on the slippery Malahat section of the Trans-Canada Highway Tuesday afternoon, pictured looking south at the intersection with South Shawnigan Lake Road. (Courtesy of Drive BC)

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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