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Street snow clearing

Snow Clearing - PlowAt the beginning of each snowstorm, trucks are dispatched to begin salting and plowing operations. As the snow accumulates, additional plows are called out for support.

In advance of winter storms and when conditions allow, a salt brine anti-icing solution is applied to city streets, which allows snow to be removed more efficiently.

As the storm occurs, crews strive to keep main arterials (ex: Main, Mountain, St. George, Hospital areas) open at all times. The main arterials are part of the snow route plan. 

After snow begins to accumulate, the street plows will be called in to commence plowing. The snow route is completed first, followed by all other streets. 

It takes 6 to 8 hours for crews to initially plow every street in the city for an average storm of 25 cm. Type of snow (wet or icy accumulation), drifting snow, numbers of parked cars, and traffic volume impacts the timeline for snow plowing operations.

Once a storm has ended, crews endeavour to plow all streets to their travelled length and provide centre strip bare for all city streets within 24 hours of the end of a storm.

Deployment of plowing equipment is done in two tiers:

Tier 1: Class 1, 2 and 3 road types are cleared using 18 city units and three contractor units which covers 515 lane kilometers.

Tier 2: Class 4 road types are cleared using 27 contractor units which covers 583 lane kilometers.

Classification of streets:

Service Level

Street Classification

Typical Traffic Volumes 

Typical Commencement of Plowing  

Surface Conditions following storm 



Abrasives to be used



Class 1

Freeway: i.e., Wheeler

Between 18,000 and 25,000 vehicles/day

2 cm accumulation * 

Driving lanes bare within 24 hours after end of storm

Salt **

Class 2

Arterials: i.e., Mountain, Main, Vaughan Harvey

Between 20,000 and 35,000 vehicles/day

After 2 cm accumulation *

Driving lanes bare within 24 hours after end of storm

Salt ** 

Class 3

Collectors: i.e., Evergreen, Frampton, Hennessey

Between 5,000 and 20,000 vehicles/day

After 2 - 8 cm of accumulation

Bare center strip within 24 hours after end of storm 

Salt or sand 

Class 4

Local Streets: i.e., Douglas, Hopper, Churchill

Less than 5,000 vehicles/day

After 8 cm of accumulation 

Bare center strip within 24 hours after end of storm 

Salt or sand

*    Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. – Typical Commencement of Plowing for “Class1” and “Class 2” will begin after 2 - 8 cm of accumulation.

**    Road surface temperatures (less than -12 C), limits the effectiveness of de-icing chemicals (i.e. salt).  Abrasives (sand) may be used in these situations.