Use Winter Tread Tires or Carry Chains

Winter Tire Regulatory SignThe province of British Columbia has not yet mandated that only true winter tread tires be used during the winter months on our highways. If you pass a sign requiring the use of winter tires between October 1 and April 30 each year, your vehicle must be properly equipped.

Currently both all season (marked M+S on the sidewall) or true winter tires (marked with the mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall) qualify for compliance.

You are no longer allowed to carry tire chains in lieu of having winter or all season tires fitted.

Remember, an all season tire is designed to be a compromise and operate in both summer and winter. It is not designed principally for winter use and may not be your best choice for safety.

Should you choose not to follow the advice on the sign, police may prevent you from traveling further until you are in compliance. They may also choose to issue a traffic ticket that carries a penalty of $121 and 2 points, or about the price of a good winter tire or set of chains.

Reference Links:

I have read your statement in the paper and on line on "Winter Tread Tires or Carry Chains". I have M&S (Mud and Snow) tires on both of our car/truck and both are 4WD. So is a M&S tire classified as a winter tire? neither has the mountain/snowflake symbol just "M&S" on the tire.

Section 208 in the past did define a winter tire as having the marks "mud and snow" or "M&S" on the sidewall. Today it merely states "a tire intended principally for winter use, and that provides, or is designed to provide, adequate traction in snow or mud;" We know that all season tires are a compromise and are not intended principally for winter use, consequently they do not fit this definition. A tire designed principally for winter use today carries the mountain and snowflake symbol. I did a bit more research on the topic and found an article by the Automobile Protection Association. They are a non-profit association dedicated to promoting consumer interests in the marketplace. The article says that the M&S or Mud and Snow markings only mean that "the tire has wider than normal gaps between the treads than a summer tire. As there is no industry standard to define what M+S means, the level of traction in winter conditions is variable." It goes on to say "All winter tires offered in Canada bear this symbol that denotes approval of the Canadian Rubber Association (CRA). In principle, it guaranties that the tire conforms to specific performance requirements regarding grip in snow, and that the tire is specifically designed for driving in snowy conditions. The standard does not currently include a test for grip on ice. Until recently, the snowflake on a mountain symbol was a reliable indicator of with winter performance of a tire. However, BF Goodrich, Goodyear, Michelin and Nokian now offer tires bearing the aforementioned symbol, which have tread patterns more typical of an all-season tire and are approved for year-round use. These all-season tires are not true winter tires."

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

As long as posted signs say M&S is acceptable, regardless of one's interpretation of Section 208, most people will elect the legal (cheaper) minimum requirement and not buy snow tires. The aforementioned tires barely meet the minimum requirements to attain the snowflake symbol. Transport Canada hasn't done much if anything in decades to ensure public safety. It would be a good idea if BC has its own legislation requiring automakers to abide by BC regulations, much like they must in California. 

Transport Canada needs to re-visit the snowflake requirements and mandate regulations that all new vehicles have night sensing front and REAR tail lights. Auto manufacturers should cease enabling lighted instrument panels confusing many people into thinking they're driving with both their front and rear tail lights on. Just ask any law enforcement officer how frustrated it is, now more than ever in seeing so many people driving without their tail lights on. 

and use of snow tires vs chains vs cable chains? In other words, which are better and under which conditions?  Personally, I think cable chains are great when it snows and on ice, chains I am not familiar with but I typically see large trucks or busses use them, albeit non effectively. They still have difficulty going up a snowy hill.


I have an all wheel drive suv with new all season tires and wish to know which highways are posted with winter tires as I am planning a trip to Edmonton from Van. Is. for Xmas.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

ICBC and the Ministry are simple well....

The attitude of ICBC is that we do not need to winter tires at all in the lower mainland, even travelling up to Whistler is fine with summer tires.  Of course, all this depends whether or not you get into an accident and the peace office at the scene feels your lack of having winter tires contributed in any way to the accident.

As always, the governments (both provincial, federal, and city) along with out stellar crown corporation insurance company tend to always take a reactive instead of proactive position in all safety and public interest matters.

Just pose the question on social media sites, asking if we should install snow tires in Metro Vancouver. You will see what they're response is: NO.

The attitude of ICBC is that we do not need to winter tires at all in the lower mainland, even travelling up to Whistler is fine with summer tires.

Here's the advice ICBC have on their website regarding Winter Tires.

In reply to by CompetentDrivingBC

They do not offer any genuine [good] advice here.

Most of us only encounter winter conditions such as ice, slush, or hard-packed snow on a limited basis. With this in mind, good quality all-season M+S tires may be fine for you.

It's common sense, but common sense they need snow tires, not M&S which is considered legal despite how one interprets Section 208 says. Climate change is real unless you believe what Agent Orange says in the USA. Snow tires, not winter tires are a must not tires meant to mislead people who barely meet the "snowflake" symbol Transport Canada requirement. 

The police are not the only ones that make decisions based on the lack of winter tires when there is a need for them. The courts can find that a driver is negligent for not using winter tires post collision as well.