City of Toronto's Approach to Municipal Snow-Clearing

The City of Toronto is reminding residents and businesses about the levels of snow-clearing service that the City provides.

Responding to large snowfalls requires a co-ordinated approach by the City’s staff and contractors to clear Toronto's streets and sidewalks.

As soon as the snow begins, Transportation Services sends its fleet of salt trucks to the expressways and the main roads. The salt trucks then move to local roads. If the City receives 2.5 centimetres of snow, the plows are sent to the expressways and, if five centimetres falls, plows also go to the main roads, with plowing taking place intermittently for the duration of the storm. 

When the snow stops, if the snow accumulation has reached eight centimetres, plows are sent to local roads. Residents are asked not to call 311 during the storm to ask when their street will be plowed. The City will clear the local roads between 14 and 16 hours after the snow stops falling.

The City will clear snow from sidewalks on roads with high pedestrian traffic and on bus routes where it is mechanically possible to do so after two centimetres of snow have fallen and from the remaining roads after eight centimetres have fallen. In the central core of the city, property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow within 12 hours after a storm. More information about sidewalk snow clearing in Toronto and a map of where the service takes place are available at http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/snow/sidewalks

The City will only open/clear driveway windrows where it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimetres of snow have fallen. Typically, driveway windrows are opened between one and two hours of the road being plowed. The service is meant to only open up a width of about three metres – not the full width of the driveway. This program does not take place in the central core of the city due to narrow road widths and on-street parking.

The City has created a webpage that enables residents to see the location of city plows, sidewalk plows and salt trucks, and noting when their street was serviced by the City's winter operations crews. The webpage can be accessed at http://www.toronto.ca/plowTO.

The City has identified a priority network of bike lanes and cycle tracks in the downtown core that will receive enhanced winter maintenance this winter, including snow plowing and salting to improve safety for cyclists.

The City of Toronto’s levels of service for snow clearing meet the provincial standards for municipalities and road authorities. These levels of service were adopted by Toronto City Council in 2013. 

The City has 600 snow plows, 300 sidewalk plows and 200 salt trucks ready to tackle the winter season.

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