Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Ward 33 E-Blast November 16th

With winter weather just around the corner, the Ward 33 team would like to send out a friendly reminder to residents about the winter service standards for the City of Toronto, and specifically for neighbourhoods in North York.

In delivering these services, the goal of the City of Toronto is to maintain safe and passable transportation networks including sidewalks, local streets, arterial roads, expressways and TTC routes. Winter services in the City involve 3 key elements: de-icing, plowing, and snow removal. 


The City uses rock salt and other products such as sand to provide traction and encourage melting during icy conditions. Expressways (such as the DVP), and arterials (such as Sheppard Ave. E.) are salted within 2-4 hrs of the onset of icy conditions. Collectors (such as Van Horne Ave and Brian Drive) and primary service routes are salted within 4-6 hrs, while local roads (such as George Henry Blvd and Edmonton Drive) will be salted within 8-12 hrs of icy conditions. The City has also begun phasing in the practice of anti-icing where a salt brine solution is applied to road surfaces in advance of an oncoming storm. This causes faster de-icing and reduces the volume of rock salt needed during the storm.

For more information on de-icing, check out the City’s Salt Management Plan.


The City prioritizes expressways, arterials, collectors, and TTC Routes for snow plowing. On these roads, plowing continues until the end of the storm until all roads have been cleared. Expressways will start to be cleared once there is snow accumulation of between 2.5 cm to 5 cm and main roads and collector road ploughing will be initiated after 5 cm of snow has fallen. Clean-up operations on these roads, including curb clearing, parking space clearing, and bus bay clearing, will follow immediately after plowing and will typically take 24hrs after the end of the snowfall to complete.

For local streets, plowing begins after 8cm of snow has accumulated, and should be completed within 14-16 hours after the storm ends (i.e. if it starts snowing at 5:00 p.m. and stops at 7:00 p.m., plowing will begin at 7:00 p.m. with the goal of clearing all snow within 14-16 hours). The timeline may vary depending on the amount of snow that has fallen.

Unlike many other areas in Toronto, neighbourhoods in North York receive sidewalk plowing services from the City. Mechanical sidewalk clearing is performed in high volume pedestrian routes (arterial roads, school zones, transit areas) after 8 cm (Nov, & April) and after 2 cm (Dec, Jan, Feb & March) of snow has fallen. Low volume pedestrian routes (collector roads and local roads) will be cleared after 8 cm has fallen. While the City does provide these clearing services, the City also requests that homeowners do their part in dealing with minor accumulation on sidewalks in front of their property. The City also offers sidewalk clearing services for seniors and those with permanent disabilities. For more information on this service, please call 416-395-6303 or 311.

In addition to roads and sidewalks, the City also provides windrow clearing in North York. A windrow is the build up of snow at the end of driveways caused by recent plowing. Windrow clearing provides an opening of 3m per driveway, and there may be a small snow ridge of 8-10cm left after this is done. If operators encounter parked cars or other obstacles, windrow clearing may not be possible, so please be aware of when clearing may occur. Windrow clearing begins immediately after plowing is finished and may take up to 16 hrs to complete. Windrow clearing service is also the reason that parking is not allowed on many side streets between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the winter – on-street parking creates obstacles for the successful and full completion of snow clearing.

Snow Removal  

When there has been a large volume of snow accumulation, it may not be possible to clear roads by simply pushing snow to the curb. In these circumstances, the City provides snow removal, where snow is collected and moved to dumping location. This is a costly process and is therefore not the first solution the City relies on.After 20-30cm of snow, expressways will be plowed on an ongoing basis until the snow has stopped and the roads are clear. This may take up to 3 days. For arterial and collector roads, partial snow removal begins after 20cm of accumulation, and full time snow removal begins after 30cm of snow. Snow removal for arterial and collector roads may take up to 2 weeks to complete. Finally, local roads (including cul-de-sacs and laneways) receive snow removal after more than 30cm of snow accumulation, which may take up to 3 weeks to complete. Often in our Ward, snow is piled in out-of-the-way areas in cul-de-sacs rather than removed completely due to the high cost of removal. If snow is piled into a bank in front of your home, or in a way that blocks your driveway, please call 311 or our office to report this. Our office keeps a list of areas where this has happened previously and flags these areas for the manager of snow removal before the winter season begins.

Track snow plows and salting live at PLOWTO.

Frequently Asked Questions and Requests 

1. It has been more than 16 hrs since the end of the storm and my street has not been cleared.

First call 311 and initiate a service request, and then follow up with our office at 416-392-4038 [email protected] We’ll be keeping an updated record of problem areas to ensure that crews correctly address snow clearing on all residential streets.

2. Snow plows have created a windrow that has blocked access to my car into my driveway.

Typically, driveway clearing will begin after 1-2 hrs of plowing, but may take up to 16 hrs to complete. If 16 hrs have passed, call 311 and initiate a service request. If you require immediate access due to an emergency, call 911.

3. Who is responsible for snow clearing in front of schools?

School boards are responsible for sidewalk clearing abutting their properties unless they are located on a street that receives mechanical sidewalk snow clearing services. It is also the responsibility of each individual school to plough any cut-through pathways that connect side streets to school property. When a cut-through connects a side street to a City park, snow clearing responsibility falls to Parks staff, unless otherwise noted by signage at the entrance to the cut-through (not all Parks-maintained cut-throughs receive winter maintenance).

4. There is an icy patch on a sidewalk that requires salting

If you’ve encountered an icy patch on a sidewalk, call 311 right away to initiate a service request. This should be taken care of within 72 hrs of your request.

5. My property is on a curve in the road and plows have not properly cleared this area.

If a plow has not cleared your street correctly, first call 311 to initiate a service request and then follow up with our office at 416-392-4038 or [email protected] We’ll be keeping an updated record of problem areas to ensure that crews correctly address snow clearing in all residential streets.

6. It has been more than 16hrs since snow fall has stopped, there is more than 5-8cm of snow on the sidewalks, but sidewalk clearing hasn`t happened.

Snow sometimes accumulates more readily in some parts of the neighbourhood compared to others. If you notice sidewalks that have over 5-8cm of snow and it`s been 16 hrs since the snow has stopped, notify 311 and our office at 416-392-4038 or [email protected]

7. My neighbour is elderly and is having trouble with outdoor winter home maintenance. Can the City help?

While the City of Toronto offers sidewalk clearing services for the elderly and disabled, it does not provide services for driveway or pathway clearing. If you are a senior or know a senior who needs help with outdoor winter maintenance, we suggest you contact Four Seasons Connections at 416-447-5074. This organization offers affordable snow and ice removal for seniors in North York.

8. Who is responsible for snow clearing around fire hydrants?

Residents with fire hydrants on their property are required to remove snow around the hydrants in a timely manner. If you are concerned about access to a hydrant, call 311 to initiate a service request.

9. Snow plows are causing damage to the sod on my property.

Sidewalk plows have been known to occasionally cause damage to the sod or curbs adjacent to sidewalks. Call 311 to record this damage and your property will be put on a repair list for the spring.

Last week we asked “HOW’S YOUR SERVICE?” and we heard from many of you. As we enter the winter season please be sure to let our office know how your snow de-icing, plowing and snow removal service is. Contact us at 416-392-4038 or [email protected]