Winter tires required for highway

NANAIMO – City and RCMP want residents to get ready for winter road conditions and have snow shovels handy.

The city and Nanaimo RMCP are reminding the public to prepare for winter weather.

Substantial snowfalls could mean delays in plowing side roads. The city prioritizes major roads, emergency and bus routes, but residential streets might wait up to 96 hours to be plowed.

The city also clears sidewalks around parks, bridges, main bus stops and major city facilities, but property owners and occupants are responsible for removing snow and ice from walkways within 24 hours of a snowfall.

Caution is urged around slippery boardwalks, trails, stairs, bridges and fast-flowing streams and rivers. Broken branches and other debris and glare from wet roads can also combine with early onset of darkness to make travel treacherous, especially on rainy nights.

Cpl. Norm Smith, head of Nanaimo RCMP’s Municipal Traffic Section, said failure to have tires suited to conditions can result in fines and being turned back by police.

Winter tires are required for highways, such as the Malahat, Oct. 1 to March 31. During the winter driving season, signs posted at the start of the highway display the symbols ‘M+S’ for mud and snow-rated all-season tires and a snowflake inside a mountain outline symbol for snow tires. When signs flash those symbols, vehicle must have either tire type installed before proceeding.

“Those are basically two types of tires that are going to be out on the road for going over the Malahat, the Coquihalla and the (Port Alberni) hump I think also has a sign on it now,” Smith said.

Disregarding the signs can result in a $109 fine for disobeying a traffic control device and police can also close a highway and prevent vehicles without suitable tires from proceeding if weather conditions warrant.

Police in Nanaimo and ICBC will be out checking vehicles for safe tires, windshield wipers, functioning lights and other safety equipment Nov. 25.

To report a concerns or make suggestions about snow and ice control, please contact Nanaimo’s public works department at 250-758-5222 or

To report concerns in city parks and trails, please contact Nanaimo parks, recreation and environment at 250-756-5200 or