Winter snow removal (part 2)

January 5, 2011

Caring Community

Snow clearing from our city’s roadways involves snow plowing, sanding and salting.

In order to keep our city as safe as possible, streets are prioritized using criteria laid out in the Ontario Municipal Act, Ontario Regulation 239/02.

  • Arterial roads – also known as major through roads—are plowed first, within six hours after the snow fall has ended, and when the snow accumulates to 2.5 cm.
  • Collector roads – which connect to arterials, including bus routes and school zones—are cleared next, within 12 hours of the end of a snow storm, and when snow accumulates to 2.5 cm. Roads with higher traffic volume are cleared first.
  • Residential roads are pre-treated with sand and salt to ensure safety by providing traction while driving. Residential roads are cleared when 8 cm of snow accumulates and is completed within 24 hours of the end of a snow fall. Contractors are used to assist with a severe snow fall.


The Operations department proactively applies a 23 per cent salt brine solution to road surfaces before an anticipated storm. The salt brine solution prevents the snow and ice from bonding to the road surface, allowing for easier plowing by Operations crews.

The pre-wetting of granular salt with a 23 per cent salt brine solution allows the salt to react faster and reduces the bouncing affect of applying dry salt to the road surface.

Salt and sand routes

During or in anticipation of icy road conditions, sanding or salting operations are mobilized, and roads are treated in a priority sequence as listed below.  You can see the maps by clicking the following:

High priority routes

Residential sand routes

Secondary salt routes

Salt brine routes

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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7 Comments on “Winter snow removal (part 2)”

  1. Steven Betteley Says:

    I don’t understand why something as simple as a plow going down the road has become such a pain. We have had 2 inches of snow fall (5cm) get packed down, then 2 more fall, get packed down. Then a sand truck goes by and spreads sand over a 4 foot (just over a meter) path down the center of the road. Another 3.5 inches fall (more than 8cm),is now packed down and still no sign of a plow.Sure we don’t live on a main “artery” but still the roads should be safe in residential areas too. All the salt brine will have been diluted from what snow has melted and now with the bitter cold has frozen to the packed snow making the road in my neighborhood slippery and dangerous. Did i mention this neighborhood is full of young families with children? The road in question is Crossingham Dr. I’m sure i’m not the only one on my street or probably other streets that are just as frustrated. My family is hoping, for their safety and others that something could be done.

  2. kfarbridge Says:

    Staff followed up direclty with Steven Betteley concerns. I am sharing their response so other can better understand the reason behind the City’s winter snow clearance practices (by the way my brother-in-law is visiting from Calgary and he told me they don’t plow residential streets in that city):

    Operations staff have treated all residential roads with traction/salt material to keep them passable. I have forwarded your concern to our staff to re-assess should any additional attention be required. As you know, we follow the Minimum Maintenance Standards, Reg 239/02 of the Municipal Act in our level of service delivery. That specification does not call for a plow out of residential streets until a depth of 8cm has been realized for a Class 5 roadway, (residential roads). This threshold was reduced to 8cm from 10cm in 2006 by the then council of the day. Residential roads did not have that accumulated depth present following the snowfall of January 12th to undertake a full residential road plow out. As mentioned staff will re-attend to address any unsafe areas that may have developed since the snowfall and our first attendance.

  3. Philip Orobono Says:

    I live at 88 Alma St. N. Its near the corner of Alma and Paisley. Now depending who’s driving the snowplows any given night after a snowfall, some guys do a nice neat job and are able to leave a minimal amount of snow at the end of one’s driveway, while other guys make an absolute mess and leave a mound 2 feet high of that heavy packed snow/slush….with below zero temperatures combined with double wide driveways….this literally TRAPS people’s cars in their driveway….and I know I am NOT the only person this happens to! I know from experience that snowplows can be manoeuvred to get MORE snow on the banks and LESS on the end of people’s driveway. Are these drivers given ANY instruction on snow removal or are they just given a job based on a pretty resume and away we go? I literally had chest pains tonight from going out and clearing the mess before it hardened! 2 feet high no less? Insane…does anyone at all sympathize with me because right now my wife feels I am out of place even saying a word….I was seriously contemplating giving that driver a piece of my mind if he came back this way but I think I will just try to get ahold of the proper supervisor and voice my complaint that way.

  4. kfarbridge Says:

    Philip, I will pass on your comments. My sense also is that the weather and the type of snow conditions have a role to play – especially when the snow is so “soggy” as it was last night and today. It was heavy shovelling.

  5. Jim Grant Says:

    Karen – FYI – Having lived in Calgary for many years I’m not sure your brother in law has given you the full story. Calgary plows all major arteries and bus route streets. They do not use salt as it will not work with the colder weather Calgary gets. They use stone instead. Over the last several years, they have experimented, with a certain amount of success, liquid spraying. Here’s the point though, which is Calgary’s weather patterns. Too often Calgary’s deep freeze is very short lived. In otherwords, many times, a day or two, after a storm, a Chinook wind will blow in from the mountains and the majority of the snow has melted.This can happen as quickly as the time it takes us in Ontario to go from major routes to residential streets with our plows.
    As to Philip’s situation, It’s too bad there aren’t snow angels about his residence. On our street there are approx 5 snow plows and as a neighbourhood, we make sure everyones driveway is cleared after the plow. No shovelling and/or hopefully no heart attacks allowed on this street. Hope someone steps forward to be his snow angel.

  6. CSH Says:

    Hello Karen,
    We should start investigating into technology for heating of sidewalks using solar panels..
    Solar panels can be deployed on the same poles that carry your street lights and the energy generated can be used to heat sidewalks.
    A small pilot strech of sidewalk can be used. Even the enterance to city hall can be used.
    It will help reduce the amount of salt/sand spread, reduce grrenhouse has emissions (the machine that clears sidewalks)
    I dont think a lot of money is needed for this if its a pilot. If departments allocate 50K towards the trial it will be worth it.
    Anyone in your road clearing, sidewalk department who is corious enough to find better way of doing things can do this.
    With so many universities around i am sure you can get good ideas…

  7. Rob Britton Says:

    Ah, remember the good old days when most times the streets were bare within hours of a decent snowfall. Well folks,” the good old days” were when the city was a vastly different place. A lot smaller, less poulation and a lot less cars. We have grown and not in a small way. Major arteries are longer and wider, bus routes have grown to meet the population spread and all these need to be cleared first. Guelph has only so much money for snow removal equipment and only so much money for winter control. The concern for the enviroment is something we should all be grateful for, less salt used is good for all when one considers the limited ground water supply we need to protect. I for one think that the men and women who are out there in the worst of weather do an excellent job with the resourses at hand. Sure, there will always be problems with specific streets but the city seems quick to respond when informed. On my street I have found that the only time the end of my driveway has an overabundance of snow piled in it is when the contract (grader) comes to do the street. I have never had a problem with an actual city employee’s job performance in this respect. As to the snow angels… I am in the unfortunate position of not being able to clean my driveway due to health issues and cannot offer enough thanks for the gentleman up the street who has taken it upon himself to bring his snowblower to my rescue. We really do need more people like him to do what others cannot. To Phillip, please for the sake of yourself and your family when you talk to a city supervisor ask about the snow angels program. Chest pains are nothing to ignore and with a solution available it would be a tradgedy for all if something more serious were to happen. We read about these kinds of sensless deaths all the time and there are solutions available. Good luck

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