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UPDATE: No mail, flights cancelled, shelters open after heavy snowfall across Greater Victoria

Ferries remain

The message for Greater Victoria Tuesday is to stay home with most transportation options limited due to heavy snowfall overnight.

The province is asking residents to avoid non-essential travel Tuesday as at least 25 centimetres of snow has fallen in Greater Victoria with 30 cm on the Malahat and other areas of the Island.

Environment Canada forecasts more snow over the next several hours.

As of 6 a.m., BC Transit suspended all service in Greater Victoria.

At 11:30 a.m., Canada Post issued a red service notice, meaning mail will not be delivered, especially in Sidney, Victoria and Duncan.

“A red service alert means that we are suspending delivery for the day and not sending our delivery agents out or recalling them,” read a news release.

All morning ferries between Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Gulf Islands were delayed or cancelled due to weather and staffing shortages.

While sailings resumed laterin the day, the Mill Bay/Brentwood Bay route is set to resume Wednesday (Dec. 21).

Emcon Services, which maintains the Malahat, is asking drivers to avoid travel if possible with an advisory in effect for Highway 1 from Langford to Mill Bay.

Police departments from across the region stressed that people stay off the roads if they can. Just after 8 a.m., Central Saanich police said many of the roads in that community were not driveable and called the Pat Bay Highway “treacherous.” Mount Newton Cross, Tanner and Keating Cross roads reopened in both directions at Highway 17 around 10:30 a.m., but police reiterated their call for people to stay home in order to allow crews to clear the roads.

For those seeking refuge from the conditions, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness said a warming centre is open at the St. John the Divine Anglican Church (1611 Quadra St.). The church will also operate as an overnight warming centre until 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the City of Victoria said.

The Vancouver International Airport said just after 1:30 a.m. that it was temporarily suspending incoming flights.

Victoria International Airport warns travellers to expect delays and cancellations due to the winter conditions. It advises passengers to check with their airline and allow for extra time to get to the airport.

READ MORE: Storm coverage

Elementary and high school students are off the hook this snowfall as students are already out for the winter break. However, the conditions are impacting local post-secondary schools.

The University of Victoria has cancelled all in-person exams set for Tuesday, while online exams were proceeding as planned. UVic added that an updated exam schedule will be posted on Tuesday. Camosun College and Royal Roads University have closed their campuses for the day.

Thousands were without power between the East Sooke area and Port Renfrew after outages started around 4 a.m. Crews were on the scene of the East Sooke outage just after 6 a.m., where a tree down across wires was to blame for the power issues.

Downed hydro lines also caused the Ministry of Transportation to close Highway 14 from Kemp Lake Road to Grant Road West in Sooke around 10 a.m. People were asked to avoid the area.

The CRD said it will be clearing, sanding and de-icing high-use urban sections of the Galloping Goose, Lockside and E&N trails.

Many municipal halls and other municipal facilities, like recreation centres, are closed for the day.

Butchart Garden also closed Tuesday morning because of what the attraction called extreme weather conditions.

Tickets purchased for Dec. 20 can be used on any other day, the business said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming you in the upcoming days,” it reads.


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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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