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Prepare for winter in UniverCity!

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Cars driving on snowy road

Here are our top tips to prepare for winter in UniverCity. Key points to remember is that it is colder and snowier here than in the rest of the lower mainland because we are at a high elevation.

For drivers & transit users

Switch to winter tires by mid-October

For those new to the area, please make sure you use *proper winter tires*. All-season tires are not good enough for this area. We recommend switching to winter tires by mid-October and plan to switch back to summer tires in mid-April. On Burnaby Mountain, the snowy season starts much earlier than at lower elevations. And if you wait until the last minute to make an appointment to get your tires changed you will get caught in the rush and might need to wait several weeks.

Know before you go: check road conditions

Visit the SFU Road Report to find out the status of UniverCity and SFU roads. This page includes webcams that show key roads around UniverCity and the intersection of Gaglardi Way & University Drive East.

Know before you go: check for transit alerts

Follow Translink on Twitter @Translink or subscribe to Transit Alerts for the status of public transit. You may also wish to visit the SFU Road Report to find out the status of UniverCity and SFU roads. This page is a quick place to check whether the buses up the mountain are still running.

Winter driving

Carry winter safety essentials

Always store an emergency kit in your car. This should include an ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight and fresh batteries, warm gloves, a warm hat, boots, a good blanket and some extra winter clothing.

Snow clearing on roads

SFU clears the snow from roads throughout UniverCity, even those roads owned by the city. Facilities staff spray a salt-brine solution to clear roadways. At any given time as many as five trucks, four tractors and one loader could be clearing ice and snow when a full snowstorm is underway. Once the roads are plowed, a salt-sand combination is used to prevent ice from reoccurring and minimize slippery conditions. If you see any areas that need to be sanded/salted or cleared call 778-782-3582 or email

When walking or using transit

Dress for the weather

If you are new to Canada, check out the Red Cross' guide to dressing for winter. Make sure to wear several layers and insulated, waterproof footwear. Waterproofness is an important quality in the lower mainland because the temperature often swings above and below freezing point. For kids, always have several pairs of extra gloves on hand because no matter what kind of gloves they use, they will get wet on the inside and take a while to dry!

Walking on ice and snow

SFU has advice on walking like a penguin to avoid slips and falls. Some people find snow traction cleats such as these helpful, especially those who are vulnerable to a fall or may need to push a stroller up an icy hill.

Snow clearing on sidewalks and paths

In Burnaby, owners or occupiers of multi-family, commercial or institutional properties are responsible for removing any snow or ice from all sidewalks and multi-use paths surrounding their property no later than 10 am every day, including holidays.

Paved paths in UniverCity, as well as sidewalks in UniverCity's commercial areas, are all cleared by SFU. If one of these paths or sidewalks needs to be sanded/salted or cleared call 778-782-3582 or email

Removing snow from sidewalks adjacent to the school is the responsibility of the School Board. Removing snow and ice from sidewalks next to UniverCity's residential buildings is the responsibility of the strata or building owner.

Note: gravel paths in UniverCity are not cleared of snow and ice in the winter. Be prepared to take a slightly longer route in order to avoid these uncleared areas.

If you see an intersection, road or sidewalk that isn't being cleared, please email us the date, time, location and a photo so that we can follow up with the right people.

Avoid walking under trees during snow and wind storms

Large branches or entire trees can snap with no warning. Sheets of heavy snow can also fall from buildings and balconies. Stay aware of your surroundings and don't linger in the forest when conditions are dangerous.

For homeowners & renters

Service your gas appliances

If your unit has a gas furnace, you should have it serviced once a year. A good time to do this is just before the cold weather arrives.

Secure outdoor water sources

Drain and store any garden hoses or sprinklers before the first frost to eliminate the chance that they’ll freeze and burst. For hose bibs (ie., your outside tap, if you have one), shut off the water-supply valve inside your unit that feeds the line, then open the outdoor spigot (any water trapped inside will drain out). If you simply shut off the spigot itself, trapped water can freeze and cause a burst pipe inside. For greater protection, you can purchase an exterior faucet cover for a few dollars.

Look for ailing tree limbs

A dead branch covered in snow can easily snap, endangering people below and potentially causing thousands of dollars worth of damage if it strikes a roof, a porch, or siding. Before the first snow, report any dead or ailing limbs near your unit to your strata manager.

Check your emergency kit

Heavy snow and wind can cause power outages. UniverCity usually experiences an outage at least once a year. Sometimes these outages can last for a while, and now is the time to prepare! The City of Burnaby has tips on preparing an emergency kit.

Insulate and protect against drafts

Draft-proofing and effective use of drapes, blinds and heaters can reduce your energy use and keep your home warmer.

Use heaters safely

Heaters are a common cause of home fires. Keep anything that can burn, including Christmas trees, at least 3 feet away from any heat source. If you use a portable space heater, make sure you review these tips to stay safe.

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