Toronto Ready for Winter Snow Clearing (UPDATED)

Some quick reminders on City snow clearing for this year:

When the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches eight centimeters, local road plowing will begin.  Plowing on the local roads is usually completed between 14-16 hours after the snow stops falling. During this time, snow service requests will not be taken by 311.

The City will only open driveway windrows wherever it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimeters of snow has 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.

The City will clear snow from sidewalks on local roads where it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimetres (five centimetres in January and February) of snow has fallen.  If the snowfall is less than eight centimeters, it’s the resident’s responsibility to clear the snow.

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

For more information on the City’s plans for snow clearing, visit the City’s Transportation website.

Original Post (Dec. 2013):

Former Mayor Mel Lastman used to joke that snow removal services in North York were so good that the snow got cleared before it hit the ground. Although our service levels aren’t quite that good any more, visitors from other parts of the city often comment on how good we still have it in North York. Folks from the “downtown”, for example, are still startled to see that the city still plows our sidewalks, a service they don’t receive.

Here is what you can expect when the snow falls.

Prior to the onset of a storm, the City will apply a layer of salt brine to hills and bridges to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement.  When the snow fall begins, trucks immediately begin salting expressways and main roads.  Local roads are salted soon after.  Plowing begins on expressways when 2 cm of snow has accumulated, or 5 cm on main roads.

Plowing local roads begins when the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches 8 cm.  Plowing on local roads is usually completed between 14-16 hours after the snow stops falling.  The City will also open driveway windrows wherever mechanically possible to do so, but usually this will be done by a different plow 1-2 hours after the street is plowed.  Residents shoveling their driveways are often frustrated when the first plow comes by creating the windrow, but it is important to know that another plow will follow shortly.

If your street has not been plowed 14-16 hours after the end of a snowfall, you can call my office during regular hours, or 3-1-1 24-hours a day.  Please note however that snow service requests will not be taken earlier as it does take time for the plow crews to get around to all streets.

Also worth noting is that sidewalks are generally plowed by the City after 8 cm of snow has fallen.  If icy patches form after plowing, they can be reported to 3-1-1 and will be salted by follow-up teams.

The contractors clearing the snow usually do a good job, but some mistakes are inevitable.  If you have a complaint about the service, the fastest way to correct this is by calling 3-1-1. But if it’s a problem that persists, please also contact my office at 416-395-6411 so that we can meet with city staff to correct the problem.