Today, Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto’s plan to expand sidewalk snow clearing to all neighbourhoods starting this winter. City staff have recommended the expansion of this service following a successful trial program over the last two winters. This will mean 103,626 households will now receive this service – including 91 per cent which would now receive mechanical sidewalk snow clearing and around nine per cent which would be manually cleared due to sidewalk obstructions.
The expansion of the service aims to improve safety for residents in winter, provide more equitable snow clearing service to all areas of the city, and support improved accessibility.
Right now, around 85 per cent of sidewalks in the city are already cleared by mechanical sidewalk plows while 15 per cent are not cleared mechanically. In a report going to the Infrastructure and Environment committee next week, City staff confirm that by testing the smaller equipment, as well as the data gathered from the comprehensive inventory, City staff determined that tested smaller plows could clear approximately 91 per cent of sidewalks in Toronto. The remaining nine per cent of sidewalks could be cleared manually by City workers.
When new, smaller snow plows became available in 2019, the City purchased and tested nine plows on nine routes that primarily serve seniors and persons with disabilities and did not previously receive the service. The routes covered 231 kilometres of sidewalk and City staff observed and documented the performance of the machines in a range of snow conditions and neighbourhood settings.
During the summer of 2020, the City also conducted a comprehensive inventory of sidewalks to collect data to help inform the trial as well as the report. Examples of data collected include sidewalk segment lengths and widths, encroachments at private properties such as planters and retaining walls, and other obstructions such as utility poles, street furniture and adjacent on-street parking.
The report called Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial is at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/decisionBodyProfile.do?function=doPrepare&meetingId=19771.
The report will be considered by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 25 and then by City Council on June 8 and 9.
More information on the sidewalk trial, including a public presentation, is at: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/road-maintenance/winter-maintenance/sidewalk-snow-clearing-trial/
“Providing city-wide sidewalk snow clearing is the right thing to do and we are able to proceed thanks to the diligent work of City staff. This will mean that when the snow starts to fall this winter, all 7,300 kilometres of sidewalk in Toronto will be cleared by the city. We found a way to do this thanks to new technology and also a comprehensive study of the City’s sidewalks so we had on the ground data – this was the right and responsible thing to do. I look forward to supporting this expansion through the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and at City Council next month so that we are ready for next winter.”
– Mayor John Tory
“It’s important that City staff continually look for ways to improve how winter services, such as snow clearing on sidewalks, are delivered. Mobility and safety, especially in winter, is important for everyone. I look forward to learning more about the results of the trial and how this could impact safety, accessibility and equity during the winter.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rough Park) Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
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