Snowy weather and cold temperatures are back in Toronto. Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, was joined by City of Toronto staff today to discuss winter weather service delivery, which is already underway.
The City of Toronto welcomed the arrival of most of its snow clearing equipment earlier this week. Staff have made sure that salt supplies have been replenished, and snow response technology has been maintained or enhanced including weather stations and asphalt temperature readers. The City’s plow location web app has been improved and will be activated on December 1.
Toronto residents and business owners are reminded that they can contribute to safer roads and sidewalks by shoveling nearby sidewalks and preparing their homes when snow and temperatures fall.
It’s not all about the activity on the surface – City staff are also monitoring and dealing with the infrastructure below the streets. Cold weather and rapid swings between thaw and freezing temperatures can cause an increase in watermain breaks. City staff are ready to respond to service calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Toronto is a bustling and vibrant city, with more than 5,600 km of roads and more than 2.9 million residents who rely on the roads, sidewalks, cycling routes and transit vehicles to go about their daily lives, especially in winter. Toronto’s snow clearing program is based on a number of considerations such as studying long-term weather patterns/average snowfall and other data, winter service contracts, and the safety and movement of residents and visitors.
The City has a fleet of more than 1,100 snow clearing vehicles as well as more than 1,500 personnel (contracted and City staff) on standby 24 hours a day and seven days a week ready to respond to snow at a moment’s notice. Salt trucks are the first line of defence when snow begins to fall. Plows are sent out as snow accumulates to between 2.5 and five centimetres on expresways and major roads.
Toronto budgets about $90 million annually to help keep roads and sidewalks safe and passable during winter.
A recent review of the City’s Winter Maintenance Program found that right now the City of Toronto meets or exceeds the winter maintenance levels of service for roadways, bike lanes and sidewalks as compared to other GTHA peer cities i.e., Brampton, Hamilton, Mississauga, London, and York Region.
This year, Transportation Services will also be testing new smaller machinery to mechanically clear snow from 150 km of sidewalks in areas of the city not currently serviced. The testing will prioritize locations that are currently part of the senior sidewalk clearing program, where seniors and persons with disabilities can apply to have their sidewalks cleared manually by the City at no cost. During the test, staff will also undertake the development of an inventory of sidewalk conditions and encroachments.
Since we know watermain breaks tend to increase during the cold winter months causing sudden water service disruptions, today the City of Toronto launched the No Water Map. It’s a live map on the City’s website that will give customers quick access to information about emergencies and planned water service disruptions, including the location and cause of the disruption and estimated time of restoration.
Information on the map will be updated as additional details become available so please check back regularly. City staff will continue to deliver notifications (door hangers or notices) to homes, high-rises or businesses in addition to providing the No Water Map.
Cold weather is a major cause of watermain breaks but it is not the only one. The City is dealing with aging infrastructure, with the average watermain 59 years of age. To address this issue, the City of Toronto has committed $1.9 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its watermain distribution system.
Cold weather can cause pipes inside the home and on private property to freeze. Residents are reminded to prepare their pipes for winter by wrapping foam pipe insulation around pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attics and garages. It is also important to seal air leaks around windows and doors, and to disconnect hoses and drain and shut the outdoor water supply.
Residents can learn more about how to prepare for extreme weather and weatherproof their homes at http://www.toronto.ca/extremeweatherready.
Forestry crews are also preparing for winter maintenance and emergency response. Winter storms such as blizzards, ice storms and heavy snowfalls may create hazardous conditions including tree failures and increased damages to trees. In the event of a severe storm, and a City tree or its limbs have fallen and caused damages or are blocking roads and posing a danger please remember to call 311, do not submit an online request if the storm damage response is urgent. 311 Toronto will then determine the level of priority and create a service request. An Urban Forestry inspector will investigate accordingly. More information can be found at https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/water-environment/trees/storm-damage-to-trees/.
Links to important snow clearing pages:
Snow clearing in Toronto http://www.toronto.ca/snow
Track snow clearing vehicles in real time http://www.toronto.ca/PlowTO
Salt Management Plan http://www.toronto.ca/salt.
Links to important water pages related to cold weather:
No Water Map http://www.toronto.ca/nowater
Prevent or thaw frozen pipes http://www.toronto.ca/frozenpipes
“Winter is here early. Last season I challenged staff to explore ways to improve our snow clearing services and this year’s approach remains focused on safety while also being proactive. Equipment was brought in ahead of schedule to deal with an early winter storm, there are plans to communicate better with residents on what the City delivers and how residents can help, and the new No Water Map will provide residents and business owners current and timely information about water service disruptions.”
– Mayor John Tory
“When the snow and winter come, it presents major challenges for many in the city. It is our responsibility to ensure residents of the city are safe and can go about their daily routines with as much ease as possible. Snow clearing represents a vital city service that we constantly review so that residents – notably seniors – can go about their daily lives and routine with as little risk or impediments as possible. I would also like to encourage residents to take steps now, before it gets colder, to protect their homes from frozen pipes.”
– Councillor James Pasternak
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cityoftoronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.