The City of Toronto’s Infrastructure & Environment Committee today approved the proposed plan to expand sidewalk snow clearing to all neighbourhoods in the city starting this upcoming 2021-22 winter season. City Council will consider the report at its meeting of June 8 to 9.
Following a successful snow clearing trial program over each of the last two winters, City staff recommended the expansion of the service to improve safety for residents in winter, provide more equitable snow clearing service to all areas of the city, and support improved accessibility.
The Committee also requested that City staff explore the use of the new winter maintenance equipment, purchased as part of the recent Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial, on other active transportation infrastructure to see whether it meets operational requirements. Specifically, trials would occur on multi-use pathways and on bike lanes currently without physical separation, which could be serviced with the new equipment.
If the plan is approved by Council, all homes in the city would receive winter snow clearing service on their sidewalks. This would mean that more than 103,000 households would be added to the program — 91 per cent of city sidewalks would receive mechanical sidewalk snow clearing and, due to sidewalk obstructions and narrow spaces, nine per cent would be manually cleared. This compares to approximately 85 per cent of sidewalks in the city currently cleared by sidewalk plows, with approximately 15 per cent not cleared by plows.
The budget-conscious proposal calls for the City to purchase new equipment, including the necessary smaller sidewalk plows, to expand the service beyond the more than 6,000 kilometres of sidewalks which currently receive the service to all 7,300 kilometres of sidewalks in Toronto. The proposed investment would make Toronto only the third major winter city in North America, along with Montreal and Ottawa, to employ a city-wide sidewalk snow clearing program.
When new, smaller snow plows became available in 2019, the City purchased and tested nine plows on nine routes that covered 231 kilometres of sidewalk. The trial routes were identified because they primarily served seniors and persons with disabilities and did not previously receive the sidewalk clearing service. City staff also conducted a comprehensive inventory of sidewalks, to collect data to help inform the trial, as well as the report.
The Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial report is available here
More information on the sidewalk trial, including a public presentation, is available here
“This report and plan to plow all of Toronto’s sidewalks starting this winter just makes good sense. We have the data that clearly shows that expanding the snow clearing service now and with the new equipment available can and should be done. I look forward to City Council when I can vote in support of today’s decision by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, and we can get on with making our sidewalks across the city safer this winter.”
– Mayor John Tory
“This report provides a path that will helps us improve both mobility and safety in winter across Toronto. Thank you to City staff for this informed and detailed recommendation. I am in favour of expanding this service and I look forward discussing further with my colleagues at City Council in June.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rough Park) Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
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