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Ferry, bus, car, plane: Whichever your choice, expect delays on B.C.’s south coast

Snow turning to arctic cold front Wednesday

Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island residents can expect another day of travel chaos Wednesday, as snow combines with an arctic front.

Workers who fought to clear roadways, ferry terminals and airport tarmac of tens of centimetres of snow Tuesday will now be battling the impacts of freezing temperatures on infrastructure and equipment.

Environment Canada has issued arctic outflow warnings for all of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, with temperatures forecast to drop as low as -30 C in some regions Wednesday and Thursday with the wind chill.

Here’s what travellers can expect throughout the regions:

Transit Riders

In Metro Vancouver, TransLink is warning people to prepare for delays and reduced service Wednesday as a result of the freezing weather. It says people should only travel if necessary, and if they do should allow for extra travel time and check ahead for cancellations or changes.

The situation remains uncertain in the Island’s largest hub, where Greater Victoria’s bus provider said it would halt all transit until at least 8 a.m. Wednesday. At that point, Victoria Transit plans to send out test buses to see if conditions are manageable. The situation is the same for the Gulf Islands.

Plane Passengers

After a day of utter airport chaos Tuesday, both the Victoria and Vancouver international airports are warning travellers that more delays and cancellations are likely Wednesday.

In an update early Wednesday morning, YVR said its airfield remains congested and it will be limiting incoming international flights until about Friday morning.

“We continue to ensure our runways and taxiways remain clear and are facilitating some arrivals and departures thanks to improving conditions, however flight delays and cancellations should be expected.”

Both airports are strongly recommending flyers check in with their airlines before showing up.

WestJet announced Tuesday evening that anyone with a flight before Dec. 26 who wants to cancel it will be offered a full refund. Air Canada is asking customers whose flights are cancelled to re-book online.

READ ALSO: Southern B.C. snowstorm halts flights at Vancouver airport, creates travel chaos

Ferry Goers

BC Ferries scrapped a bunch of its south coast sailings Tuesday morning, but as of Wednesday it said it’s hoping to run most of its usual trips.

Already however, the 5:15 a.m. sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point was delayed over an hour due to a frozen drain pipe. BC Ferries further cancelled the 6:15 a.m. sailing from Horseshoe Bay and 8:25 a.m. sailing from Departure Bay because of a frozen throttle on the ship’s rescue boat.

The ferry operator has also cancelled some morning sailings from Mill Bay and Brentwood Bay.

It’s asking passengers to allow extra time to get to terminals, and said the cold weather could cause departure delays.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Dogs wake up to winter across Lower Mainland after big storm

Roadway Commuters

Drivers are, as usual, being asked to stay off the roads for non-essential travel and if they don’t have winter tires. They are reminded to fully clear off their vehicles of any snow before driving and to use extra caution.

Roadways are likely to be slippery and delays are expected. Drivers can check conditions ahead of time at


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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