Winter Maintenance – What to Expect

Understandably, winter maintenance of our streets and sidewalks is a topic that gets a lot of attention every winter because it affects us all directly.  Ottawa’s winter is off to an interesting start with impressive snow accumulation, followed by very cold temperatures and a few rain days.  Regular snowfall is easily manageable; the challenges arise with high frequency of snow falls and (freezing) rain events.

The City of Ottawa has clear standards when it comes to snow clearing (plowing) and snow removal.

Here is what to expect:

There are two phases in the City’s snow plowing operations during snow storms. Phase one concentrates on transitways, major arterials (such as Montreal Road), and collector roads (such as Marier Avenue).  Phase one should be completed 2 to 4 hours after the end of snow accumulation

Phase Two is initiated only if there is 7 cm or more of snow accumulation. It includes the clearing of all residential roads to a snow packed surface. These roads should be cleared within 10 hours of the end of accumulation, and bus stops are to be cleared within 24 hours.

Sidewalk clearing begins after 5 cm of accumulation. Primary sidewalks will be plowed to a bare surface and salted 12 hours after the end of the snow fall. Primary sidewalks include any sidewalk on a transit route, for example Beechwood Avenue.

Residential sidewalks are plowed to a snow packed surface, which is a considerable challenge in our community because of high pedestrian volumes. These sidewalks are also salted within 16 hours in icy conditions.

Snow removal may also be scheduled for your street. Snow banks are removed or reduced in size when they begin to restrict sightlines or travel widths. Snow can also be removed to relieve trapped water on the road/ sidewalk, or to create storage space for future snowfalls.

Please remember to exercise caution when driving, walking, cycling, and taking the bus this winter and allow extra time for your commute when necessary so that we can all arrive safely.

If you have concerns about puddling, snow clearing, snow removal or icy sidewalks it is crucial that you report it to 311 by telephone or by going to ServiceOttawa.ca. Ottawa winters can be tough. It’s important to find the silver lining whether that’s through engaging in winter sports or snuggling up by a fire.