Halifax Transit buses will be pulled off the road at 11 a.m. on Friday and a number of other municipal services have been cancelled ahead of the fifth winter storm to hit the region in a month.
In a news release Thursday afternoon, Halifax Regional Municipality said it continues to monitor the forecast as a “complex” weather system is set to move in.
“Current forecasts indicate a significant amount of freezing rain and ice pellets. Rain will begin today, switching to freezing rain on Friday,” it said. “This system may cause power outages, downed trees and hazardous road conditions.”
Residents are being asked to move any outdoor items that may pick up wind indoors to avoid property damage from flying debris, and those who can safely do so are encouraged to clear storm drains near their homes.
The city said emergency food and water should be on hand for all family members, including pets. Personal vehicles should be filled with fuel, cell phones should be charged, and people with wells are encouraged to fill water jugs and bathtubs in case of a power outage.
“Special items, such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, and medication for pets or service animals, should be gathered before the storm,” it said.
Nova Scotia Power said it will activate its emergency operations centre at 7 a.m. and it’s positioning crews across the province.
At about 5:40 a.m. on Friday, Halifax Regional Centre for Education announced that all off its schools would be closed because of the storm. Other areas the province have also closed schools for the day, including South Shore Regional Centre for Education and Strait Regional Centre for Education.
Halifax Regional Municipality said crews remain on standby in anticipation of the storm, focusing on preparing vehicles and equipment. It said they are not applying salt and brine to the streets and sidewalks right now because the heavy rain would wash it away.
The city said service standards, including those for transit, solid waste, and some recreational operations, are expected to be impacted “due to resourcing challenges as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, including employee exposures and provincially mandated self-isolation and testing requirements.”
Beginning 11 a.m. Friday, all Halifax Transit Services, including Access-A-Bus and ferries, will end for the rest of the day. Any buses in service before that time will complete their routes, the municipality said.
“Halifax Transit will be actively monitoring the situation and will resume services as soon as it is safe to do so,” it said.
Halifax Public Libraries said all libraries will be closed all day. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has also indicated it will be closed.
As well, municipal curbside collection of garbage, organics and recyclables has been cancelled on Friday. Solid waste collection will be rescheduled to Feb. 7 for the Middle Musquodoboit, Sheet Harbour and Malay Falls areas, and all other areas will be rescheduled to Feb. 12.
The city said it will not enforce the winter parking ban Thursday night, “however, regardless of the status of an overnight winter parking ban, or whether you have received a notification, vehicles can be towed, day or night, at any time of year, if they are interfering with snow-clearing operations, as per Section 139 of the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act,” the release said.
It also said the Otter Lake Waste Management Facility, Municipal Recycling Plant, Dartmouth and Ragged Lake Composting Facilities, and Middle Musquodoboit and Sheet Harbour Refuse Depots will be closed.
The city said many municipal recreational facilities will be closed and residents should call their local recreational centre for more information. Municipal offices, including in-person customer service centres, will be closed as well.
“Employees who are able to work from home are being asked to do so,” it said.
The province also announced on Friday that all of its provincial offices would be closed due to the weather.
Emergency shelter, warming centre
The city said the George Dixon Centre will be open as a temporary emergency shelter from 9 p.m. on Friday until 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“Those at the shelter will be provided with comfort kits and food,” it said. “A decision will be made on Saturday morning whether to reopen the shelter on Saturday night, based on conditions.”
It also said the St. Matthew’s warming centre will be open on both Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. each say.
“Ground Search & Rescue remains on standby to visit locations where the municipality is aware of occupants of homeless encampments and offer transportation to these facilities,” it said.
COVID-19 testing centres, vaccine clinics
Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) also said some COVID-19 testing centres and outreach vaccine clinics will be closed on Friday and into Saturday morning due to the storm.
In some cases, additional appointments are being added on Saturday to meet increased demand.
Cancellations and closures can be found on Nova Scotia Heath’s website.
Retail, campus closures
Both Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth and the Halifax Shopping Centre posted on social media that they will be closed all day Friday.
Post-secondary institutions, including Saint Mary’s University, Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University and Nova Scotia Community College campuses will be shut down Friday.