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Here Comes The Snow… City Gets Ready to Clear Streets and Sidewalks


Snow. It’s a fact of life in Canada. And when the snow starts to fly, it can impact how we get around.

Drivers and cyclists want to have roads cleared quickly and efficiently to allow for the movement of traffic. Pedestrians require sidewalks to be cleared in order that they be able to move around the city safely. Snow means challenges for everyone.

While we can’t stop it from snowing, we can take steps to prepare for the worst Mother nature can throw at us. As winter arrives, the city’s Transportation Services Division is getting ready for another year of keeping our streets and sidewalks safe and the traffic moving.

Keeping Toronto’s streets clear of snow is a major challenge. Toronto Council has established a level of service for ploughing the snow from city streets following a storm. Here’s what you can expect.

During the winter months, from December to April, patrollers are continuously checking road and sidewalk conditions, as well as monitoring weather forecasts. Their main role is to ensure that roads and sidewalks are safe and passable.

When the snow starts to fall, salt trucks are sent out to the expressways and main roads. The city’s main priority to ensure that these routes are clear for emergency and transit vehicles. If five cm of snow has already fallen and it is continuing to snow, ploughs are sent out to these roads.

If five to eight cm of snow has fallen, ploughs are also sent out to collector roads, bus routes or local streets with hills. Once the snow has stopped and there is an accumulation of more than eight cm, ploughs are sent to the local streets.

It’s important to remember that the city’s first priority is keeping the main roads clear, so please be patient. We’ll get to the side streets as soon as possible. Please wait 24 hours after the snow has stopped before calling us to let us know if your street has not yet been ploughed. Once roads have been ploughed and are in passable condition, smaller ploughs and hand crews clear sidewalks, bus stops, crosswalks, bus shelters and seniors’ sidewalks.

What Can You Expect From Us?

• Every effort will be made to keep the expressways and main roads open during a snowstorm.
• Ploughing on side streets will usually be completed within 14-16 hours after the snow stops falling. An additional 24 hours is spent ploughing difficult areas where snow has not been completely cleared.
• Sidewalks, where the city provides the service, will generally be ploughed with 24-48 hours of a snowstorm.
• Bus stops and transit shelters will generally be ploughed within 48 hours after a snowstorm.
• Where feasible, residential driveway windrows will be opened after a side street is plowed. Please note that our intent is to only plough a sufficient amount of snow from the windrow to permit a vehicle to easily drive across. Windrow clearing is not provided on narrow streets with no boulevards or where on-street parking is permitted.
• You can get current snow ploughing information by calling 311. Residents may call this number to find out how snow ploughing operations are progressing.

What can you do leading up to and Following a Snow Storm?

• Do not push snow from your property back onto the street. It is illegal and it obstructs the work that our operators are doing.
• Use salt on sidewalks and stairs only when necessary.
• If possible, keep parked cars off the street so that ploughs can move through the streets more effectively.
• Please avoid parking vehicles over sidewalks. This hampers sidewalk snow ploughing efforts.
• Use public transit whenever possible. Fewer cars on the street can help us plough the snow.
• Wait until the ploughs have gone by before completely shoveling your driveway. This also applies if you have a sidewalk in front of your property.
• When a snow storm is forecast, you should ensure that you purchase any food, medication and household supplies that you might need for the next 48 hours. Try to stay off the streets.






Edrick Thay     12/7/2009


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