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E-BLAST: Bring on the Snow! Changes to our Winter Services

Dec 1, 2022


We already had a smattering of snow in November and more is on the way, so I'm giving you the lowdown on the changes to our winter services that came into effect this season. I've also thrown in a few ways to make the most of winter in our city. I thought it would be fun to include the extended winter forecast from the good old Farmer's Almanac that my grandparents used to consult. The Almanac's map for winter '23 is titled "Shake, Shiver, and Shovel!"


Here's the extended winter forecast from the Farmer's Almanac for winter 2023.


You'll be happy to know that the way you connect with the City about snow isn't changing. At any time of day, you can consult the City's handy PlowTO map and see where plows are in your neighbourhood in real time. If you have any issues with snow services in your neighbourhood, 311 is available 24/7 via phone, email, and you can even submit complaints online. If you're having a recurring issue on your street and it hasn't been resolved after going to 311, please reach out to my office. My team is here to escalate serious issues, and hearing from the community helps me know what I should be conveying to senior staff and Council to continuously improve our winter services.


New & Improved Winter Service Contracts

What I really want to do today is take a look under the hood and explain how our snow delivery service is changing to better serve you and your neighbours. Last season, Transportation Services wrapped up the final year of a seven-year winter services contract with the private sector. We learned a lot over the past seven years, especially from the extreme storm that we survived last January. Consequently, Transportation Services has tendered out the next set of contracts under a new model, and I think this is going to lead to much better service across the city.


This was the view out my front door after our major storm last January.


Under the last contract, 47 different contractors carried out our winter maintenance services. These contractors executed different services—some did snow clearing, some did salting, some only did sidewalks—and it was quite a feat to coordinate them, especially during a severe storm.


Under the new contract, 11 contractors are carrying out winter maintenance services. Importantly, each contractor has been awarded a specific geographic area where they will provide all of the winter services—snow clearing, removal, and salting on roads and sidewalks, and more. They divvied up these geographic areas based on ward boundaries, ensuring that each ward has one sole contractor providing winter services. This change will make it much easier for the City to monitor each contractor's performance and follow up if there are consistent shortfalls.


Monitoring the performance of our new contractors is where you come in. We always expect a few bumps in the road when a new contractor takes over a neighbourhood as they get to know their new turf. You are the eyes on the street who can alert us to these issues so that we can resolve them as quickly as possible.


When Roads are Salted & Plowed

This handy chart shows the levels of service for salting and plowing on our city streets. If these service levels aren't being met, your first stop is to reach out to 311. If you need the issue escalated, reach out to my office.



Sidewalk Clearing

Sidewalks are a slightly different matter. Many people don't realize that pedestrians are counting on not just the City, but also residents and businesses to help them get around safely in the winter.


If there is less than 2 cm of snow, it is up to residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall. Property owners are also responsible for clearing ice and snow from private property like driveways, parking spaces, steps, and landings to provide safe access for people and vehicles. If you're able, please be a good neighbour and help out seniors or people with disabilities who may need assistance clearing their sidewalks. If you’re a senior that needs assistance with snow clearing, you can reach out to Better Living Health and Community Services' Four Seasons Connection Program, which provides fee-based snow shovelling services to seniors, at 416-447-5074 or fourseasons@betterlivinghealth.org.


City crews start clearing public sidewalks when there is more than 2 cm of snow accumulation and the snow has stopped falling, or when conditions dictate. Crews start with the busiest streets like arterial roads, as well as high-priority locations like school zones, transit areas, and accessibility locations. Sidewalk clearing after a snowfall takes about 13 hours to complete, and can continue up to 72 hours after the snow has stopped falling if multiple rounds are needed. This is another area where you can report any concerns straight to 311, or reach out to my office.


Monitoring Cut-Throughs


Here is a cut-through path from Trailside Drive to Lescon Public School. It didn't get properly cleared last January until my team escalated the request.


Lastly, where I really need your help is to keep an eye on the "cut-throughs" around the neighbourhood. These are the hundreds of pathways that cut between houses from one street to another or from a street to a school yard. Last year, I made a point of letting City staff know that our past contractors have consistently failed to clear these paths, cutting students and parents off from their usual route to school. Please let me know if you don't see an improvement on these cut-through paths this season.


Enjoying Winter in Don Valley North

While I know most of us don't love the shovelling and cold that come around this time of year, there are so many great activities to enjoy here in our neighbourhood and across the city during winter. The City just opened up our outdoor skating rinks, and we have two great ones to check out here in DVN at Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Park and Van Horne Park. We also have indoor rinks at Cummer Park, Oriole, and Pleasant View Community Centres.


The hill at Linus Park is the perfect place for a winter toboggan after a big snow.


Some other great activities to try out include tobogganing, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, and enjoying the winter trails and amenities in many of our parks, including firepits, winter tennis courts, and more! You can learn more about the great winter activities our city has to offer at Toronto.ca/WelcomeTOWinter.


No matter how you like to enjoy the season, I hope you and your family stay safe and take some time to get outdoors this winter. As always, if you need assistance with anything above, do not hesitate to reach out to my office at councillor_carroll@toronto.ca or 416-338-2650.

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