Community notices

Snow Day: what goes into keeping campuses safe

January 27, 2021

By Samantha Tester

SFU staff work around the clock to make campuses safe for our community, especially during the winter, when conditions can go from wet and rainy to icy and snowy — fast.

Crew call outs
"By early to mid-October we’re ready to go for any weather that might come early," says Dan Cooper, associate director for SFU’s Buildings and Grounds.

Facilities schedules campus crews to tend to and assess conditions.

“It’s really dependent on what type of snow event we get,” Cooper says. “A typical call out would be between eight to 12 staff on the ground. We can have up to twenty to twenty-five staff depending on how much snow there is and how much is falling.”

As many as two dump trucks, five flat deck trucks and a loader could be out clearing snow at any given time.

Salt/brine/beet juice?
Before it snows, crews use brine, a liquid application, on roads to help reduce the amount of salt they use. Using less salt is better for the roads themselves and better for streams and salmon come spring time.

“Brine is typically used in advance of a snow event. Salt is used once we have some snow accumulation on the road. We use a couple of different products to reduce the amount of salt we apply on campus. Our brine includes beet juice as part of the mixture to reduce the total amount of salt in it, and we use ice melt for our pedestrian walkways instead of the salt we use on roadways.”

24/7 assessment & response
In the fall and winter months, senior administrators hold a 5:30 a.m. call when significant snow/extreme weather is expected to discuss conditions and determine what actions need to be taken.

"Whether we close or stay open is based on current road conditions, current campus conditions, what Environment Canada is saying and what our Burnaby Mountain weather forecast predicts, and what Translink is telling us, with safety being the deciding factor.” says Mark LaLonde, Chief Safety Officer at SFU.

When campuses must be closed due to weather concerns the announcement will be made across social media channels, SFU Snap and on the university’s website by 6 a.m. Weather forecasts are just that, and the actual conditions don't always align. In those cases we may need to come together again to re-assess the situation.During the day, we strive to provide two hours advance notice to our community if possible.

Know before you go
Stay connected and up to date on the latest information.

Check for how to prepare for wintry weather conditions and SFU Road Report for driving conditions. Follow @TransLink for transit alerts.

Download SFU Snap for alerts and enable notifications and follow us on Twitter @SFU for additional information and updates, including potential campus closures. 

More winter safety information at: