Weather Emergencies (Procedures)

Legislative History:

Created/Authority to Amend: Vice-President, Finance and Administration

Approved by UEC: 1994/09/12; Approved by BPC: 1994/09/27; Date Effective: 1994/09/27. Appendices referred to below are available in hard copy only. These include the list of contacts with their phone numbers (Appendix A), various greetings for phone mail messages (Appendix B), a chart listing key personnel identified in the decision and communication processes (Appendix C), and various web site messages (Appendix D). This procedure was revised 1996/01/30, 2003/11/05, 2007/11/16, 2011/06/15, and 2014/11/7

Approval Authority: Vice-President Finance and Administration

Signature: Gary Brewer


Description: Deals with decision-making, communications, resumption of operations, essential service units, Faculties and departments, special events and limitations. Has associated policy.


I  Decision Making

  1. Where positions are referred to in the following procedures, the responsibilities assigned may be delegated. Each position shall provide two alternates for each office and the name of those alternates shall be reported to the Vice-President Finance and Administration (VPFA) and the Director Security Services (DSS).
  2. The Manager, Emergency Preparedness shall be responsible for maintaining the List of Contacts (telephone numbers, etc., see Appendix A) for the “Communications Tree” (see Appendix C), and shall update it at least annually at the beginning of the fall term.
  3. The DSS and Senior Executive Officer in VPFA (SEO-VPFA), on the basis of reliable forecasts of potentially bad weather from Environment Canada, shall place the University community on a “weather watch” by ensuring this information is posted on the Weather Emergency web site (linked to the main page of the University’s web site) and shall apprise the Director, Media Relations and the VPFA of the “weather watch” status.
  4. The SEO-VPFA and the Director Security Services shall be responsible for determining when weather conditions escalate from a “weather watch” to a potential “weather emergency”, which may require the suspension of the University’s normal operations and programs.
  5. The DSS and the SEO-VPFA shall continually review together updated reports on conditions until such time as a decision either to declare a weather emergency or to discontinue the “watch” has been taken by the VPFA.
  6. The DSS and the SEO-VPFA shall assess the potential impact on University operations of a weather emergency being declared (at any or all campuses).
    1. The DSS shall consult key decision and communications personnel and place them on alert, including the following:
      1. Directors of Maintenance, Energy Management and Grounds & Custodial Services re: plant operations and implications for utilities and services (grounds, caretaking, etc.).
      2. Director, Media Relations re: internal and external communications;
    2. The SEO-VPFA shall consult key senior decision personnel and place them on alert, including the following:
      1. University Registrar re: cancellation of classes and postponement of examinations;
      2. VP Academic & Provost;
      3. VP Students
      4. the SEO-VP Academic and Provost, who shall consult the Directors of the Miles S. Nadal Downtown Management Centre, the Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development Centre, and the Schulich School of Business Executive Learning Centre.

7.a. Based on the recommendation of the SEO-VPFA and the DSS, the VPFA shall make the decision to declare a weather emergency. Decisions shall be made, where possible, in consultation with the President and with the Vice-President Academic and Provost, and the Vice-Provost Students or their named designates for the purpose of this Procedure. The SEO-VPFA shall consult the Chair of Senate or their designate in a situation where academic classes are to be cancelled and examinations postponed.

  1. A decision to declare a weather emergency shall normally be made by 5:30 a.m. for the suspension of daytime operations and cancellation or postponement of daytime classes, exams and activities (with locations/campuses specified).
  2. Once a day’s operations, classes, exams and activities have commenced, a decision to declare a weather emergency and to suspend operations and cancel/postpone classes, exams and activities (with locations/campuses specified) may be enacted at any time. Wherever possible, a decision affecting evening operations and cancellation/postponement of evening classes, exams and activities (with locations/campuses specified) shall be made by 5:00 p.m.
  3. A decision to declare a weather emergency and to suspend night-time operations (with locations/campuses affected) will normally be made by 9:00 p.m.

II  Individuals Performing Critical Functions

  1. During a weather emergency, designated individuals performing critical functions are required to continue to operate under the emergency operating procedures of their respective units. For the purpose of these procedures, individuals performing critical functions include, but are not necessarily limited to persons in specified sections of:
    • Security Services
    • Maintenance
    • Grounds
    • Energy Management University Information Technology, including Network Operations and Telecommunications
  1. Individuals performing critical functions who are on duty at the time a weather   emergency is declared shall remain on duty or be excused from duty in accordance with the Emergency Operating procedures established by their respective departments.
  2. At the outset and for the duration of the weather emergency, the senior manager overseeing individuals performing critical functions shall be responsible for liaising with and updating Security Control throughout the weather emergency on the status of their respective operation and for confirming the name and contact information (e.g., telephone numbers) of those responsible for overseeing Essential Service Unit operations.
  3. The senior manager responsible for units containing individuals performing critical functions shall develop and regularly update written procedures for their respective unit in accordance with this Procedure and distribute copies to:
    1. all employees in the unit,
    2. the VPFA
    3. the DSS and
    4. the Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources & Chief HR Officer

III  Communications

Decisions concerning the emergency will generally be disseminated in accordance with the communication tree illustrated in Appendix C.

Those so notified shall use their best efforts to communicate with persons in their immediate location and to those persons reporting directly to them until the emergency is no longer in effect.

Communications shall be clear with regard to the status of operations at each of the Keele and Glendon campuses, and the Nadal Management Centre and the Osgoode Professional Development Centre.

Key personnel identified in the decision and communication procedure shall:

  1. take steps to ensure that they can be readily contacted by the Security Control Centre throughout the weather emergency until the weather emergency is no longer in effect;
  2. ensure that they have access to contact names and addresses, evenings, weekends and holidays for situations in which a weather emergency is declared outside of “office hours”; and
  3. have a designated, trained “back-up” who can assume their communication responsibilities during vacation or other absence.

The general University community will be informed as follows:

  1. DSS shall convey the decision to the following:
    1. Director, Media Relations, who shall:
      • call the radio stations listed in Appendix B with the authorized message;
      • arrange supplementary messages on the University web site, as required; and
      • notify the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Communications and Public Affairs and all offices within the Communications and Public Affairs division.
    2. Security Control Centre, who shall:
      • monitor and provide updates of the Campus situation relative to the emergency (e.g., security, personal safety, weather conditions, etc.) to the DSS.
      • as instructed by the DSS, assist in contacting those listed below (d. through k.).
      • At the direction of DSS, ensure that the following are carried out:
        1. initiate the message on the University Switchboard, including the date and time of the declaration of a weather emergency (See Appendix XX);
        2. Post the message to the LCD screens;
        3. Post the message to the “Alert” function of the Mobile Safety App.
    3. Director Custodial & Grounds Services, who shall:
      • ensure that essential Grounds and Vehicles services are initiated, restored and/or maintained as appropriate.
    4. Director Energy Management, who shall:
      • ensure that Mission Critical Services are initiated, restored and/or maintained as appropriate.
    5. Director, ICT Infrastructure, University Information Technology (UIT), who shall:
      • ensure essential computing and telecommunications services are maintained.
    6. Manager, Library Facilities, who shall:
      • close all Library facilities.
      • inform the University Librarian.
    7. The appropriate designate of the following:
      • Seneca@York
      • Toronto Track and Field Centre
      • Archives of Ontario
      • York University Student Centre
      • Lee Wiggins Childcare Centre in the Student Centre
      • York University Co-op Daycare in Atkinson Residence
      • Canlan Ice Sports
      • Tennis Canada
      • York Lanes
      • Food Services
    8. The Assistant Vice-President, Campus Services & Business Operations, who shall:
      • notify commercial tenants on campus, including food service operators, as well as major Hospitality groups/conferences.
      • notify contractors engaged in major construction on campus
  1. Senior Executive Officer, Office of the Vice-President Finance and Administration shall notify the following of the decision:
    1. The University Registrar, who will arrange appropriate messages on the Registrar’s web site and in other electronic media (re: examination re-scheduling, etc.), as required.
    2. University Secretary and General Counsel who shall:
      • Inform members of the Board of Governors
    3. Office of the President, Chief of Staff, who shall inform all units for which the President’s Office is responsible, including, but not limited to:
      • Office of Ombudsperson and Centre for Human Rights
      • Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis
    4. University Executive Committee
    5. Executive Director, Faculty Relations who shall contact:
      • All academic unions
    6. Assistant Vice-President Human Resources who shall contact:
      • All non-academic unions
    7. Office of the Vice-President Academic & Provost, Senior Executive Officer, who shall inform:
      • the Principal of Glendon College
      • All other divisional units for which the VPA&P is responsible, including, but not limited to:
        • College Masters
        • Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students
        • York International
        • York University English Language Institute (YUELI)
        • Centre for Support of Teaching
        • Art Gallery of York University
    8. Office of the Vice-Provost Students, who shall inform all divisional units for which the VPS is responsible, including, but not limited to:
      • Counselling & Disability Services
      • Career Centre
      • Office of the University Registrar, which shall inform all areas for which the Registrar is responsible, including, but not limited to:
        • Admissions
        • Office of the University Registrar
        • Student Financial Services
        • Student Client Services
      • Office of Student Community & Leadership Development
      • Sport and Recreation
      • Office of Student Conflict Resolution
      • Office of the Vice-Provost Students
    9. Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, Senior Executive Officer, who shall inform all divisional units for which the VPRI is responsible, including, but not limited to:
      • University Research Centres
      • Office of Research Services
    10. Office of the Vice-President Advancement, Director of Advancement Services, who shall notify offices for which the VPA is responsible.
    11. York University Development Corporation
    12. CPM Employees (via email)
    13. Part time and full time faculty (via email)
    14. Other departments within the VPFA Division, including, but not limited to:
      • Human Resources
      • Finance
      • Internal Audit

 IV  Resumption of Operations

  1. The VPFA shall decide when a weather emergency is lifted and normal operating procedures are to resume. In making this decision, the VPFA shall take all reasonable steps to consult the President and the Chair of Senate (in a situation where classes had been cancelled or examinations postponed) and, if possible, the Vice-President Academic and Provost and the Vice-Provost Students or their named designates for the purpose of this Procedure.
  2. The VPFA shall convey the decision to the DSS, who shall record the time and date the decision is to take effect, and convey the decision following the procedures outlined in Article III above, as appropriate.
  3. When the emergency ends, the DSS shall notify the On-Duty Supervisor in the Security Control Centre, who shall in turn notify all managers/ supervisors of individuals performing critical functions and direct them to resume normal operating procedures.

V  Faculties, Departments and Operating Units

  1. All Faculties, departments and other operating units shall develop local procedures to ensure that, whenever possible, staff, faculty and students are informed of the closure of offices, cancellation of classes and postponement of examinations.
  1. Deans, administrative department heads, and the Principal of Glendon College shall ensure that their respective internal communication trees are updated by 31 October each year and copies provided to:
    1. VPFA and
    2. DSS

VI  Special Events

  1. All Special Events that are planned to take place when a weather emergency is in effect are cancelled unless:
    1. The event is already underway and participants are not required to move outside between buildings;
    2. The event is part of the Schulich School of Business Executive Learning Centre; or
    3. The organizer receives the written approval of the related Vice-President who will consult with VPFA prior to making a final determination. Such decisions shall be provided via email to VPFA who will convey them to the DSS and SCC.
  1. When a weather emergency is declared, each division, Faculty and department shall be responsible for notifying organizers of scheduled special events (within its respective area of responsibility).
  1. Where applicable, organizers shall contact the Security Control Centre to advise that special scheduled events are proceeding in accordance with Vice-Presidential approval and to provide organizers’ names and contact information for follow-up contact, if required, during the weather emergency.
  1. Event organizers may contact the Security Control Centre to obtain up-to-date information regarding campus road and parking lot conditions.

VII  Limitations

These procedures are not intended to cover all possible eventualities. It is assumed that the decision-making and relevant communications will be adapted, as appropriate, to suit the circumstances. It cannot be assumed that all individuals who may be coming to campus or on campus at the time of a weather emergency can be notified of the cancellation of classes and/or postponement of exams.