Winter weather events require a coordinated approach by the City’s staff and contractors to ensure that City streets, sidewalks and cycling infrastructure are safe.

The City’s Levels of Service Highlights

Road Category When does the City start plowing? How many hours after the snow stops falling will it take to clear?
Expressways 2.0 cm to 5.0 cm 2-3 hours
Arterial roads and streetcar routes 5.0 cm 6-8 hours
Collector roads, bus routes and local streets with Hills 5.0 cm – 8.0 cm 14-16 hours
All other local streets 8.0 cm 14-16 hours

 

The City’s levels of service for snow clearing meet or exceed those set by the Province of Ontario for municipalities and road authorities. These levels of service were most recently adopted by Toronto City Council in 2013 and 2014.

Salt/Brine

In advance of a winter event, Transportation Services will apply salt brine to expressways, hills and bridges.  Motorists should always keep a safe distance behind the brine trucks.  You can tell where salt brine has been applied by the grey lines left by the salt on the road surface.

Expressways

When the snow begins to stick to the road surface, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to Expressways.  Salting operations will continue until there is sufficient accumulated snow to commence plowing operations.  On Expressways, plowing will commence after approximately 2.5 to 5.0cm of snow has accumulated.  Plowing operations on Expressways will take approximately two to three hours after the end of the snowfall.

Arterial Roads and Streetcar Routes

When the snow begins to stick to the road surface, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to Arterial roads.  Salting operations will continue until there is sufficient accumulated snow to commence plowing operations.  On Arterial roads, plowing will commence after approximately 5.0cm of snow has accumulated.  Plowing operations on Arterial roads will take approximately six to eight hours after the end of the snowfall.

Collector Roads, Bus Routes and Local Streets with Hills

When the snow begins to stick to the road surface, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to Collector and Local roads with hills.  Salting operations will continue until there is sufficient accumulated snow to commence plowing operations.  On Collector and Local roads with hills, plowing will commence after approximately 5.0 – 8cm of snow has accumulated. Plowing operations on Collector roads will take approximately eight to ten hours after the end of the snowfall.

All Other Local Streets

When the snow begins to stick to the road surface, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to Local roads.  On Local roads, plowing will commence after approximately 8cm of snow has accumulated and the snowfall has substantially stopped.  Plowing operations on Local roads will take approximately fourteen to sixteen hours after the end of the snowfall.

Bike lanes and cycle tracks are salted and/or plowed based on the level of service provided to the roadway that they are adjacent to.  The City has also identified a priority network of bike lanes and cycle tracks in the downtown core that will receive enhanced winter maintenance services to improve safety for cyclists.

The City will salt and/or plow sidewalks with high pedestrian volumes, where it is mechanically possible to do so, after 2cm of snow has fallen.  High pedestrian volume sidewalks are those on arterial roads, school zones transit routes and near accessibility areas.  The City will also salt and/or plow sidewalks with low pedestrian volumes, where it is mechanically possible to do so, after 8cm of snow has fallen.  Low pedestrian volume sidewalks are those on collector and local roads.  It generally takes approximately six hours to clear snow on high volume routes and approximately seven hours on low volume routes.  Multiple rounds of sidewalk clearing is often required, particularly in response to large snowfalls.  It takes approximately forty-eight hours to clear snow from transit stops and crosswalks.

Bus Stops and Transit Shelter Plowing

Bus stops and transit shelters will generally be ploughed within 48 hours after a snowstorm.

The City will open driveway windrows, where it is mechanically possible to do so, following the roadway plowing operation. Typically, driveway windrows are opened within two hours of the road being plowed.  The level of service is to open a three metre wide opening, sufficient for a small car to pass safely.  There will also be some residual snow left in the driveway that the resident will have to clear.  The program is not provided in the central core of the city due to narrow road widths and the presence of on-street parking.