It is rare for snow to be removed from city streets because, in most cases, snow can be managed within the existing road allowance. However, when Toronto receives large amounts of snow, the windrows left by snow clearing operations (plowing and salting) can restrict traffic flow, interfere with both pedestrians and parking, and obstruct sightlines. When this happens, the City conducts snow removal (collecting the snow and removing it) to designated snow storage and snow melter sites.
There is a network of five snow storage and three snow melter sites throughout the city. Snow removal operations involves the use of snow melters, snow blowers, front end-loaders and dump trucks.
Snow removal operations typically take place during the daytime from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or overnight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Orange temporary signage is posted by 8 p.m. of the previous day for daytime snow removal operations and by 3 p.m. of the same day for overnight operations. Where these signs are posted, parking on that road is prohibited until snow removal has been completed and the signs are removed.
The Mayor and the General Manager of Transportation Services have the authority to declare a “major snow storm condition”. When this happens, parking on roads designated as snow routes is prohibited for a period of 72 hours. This is to allow for snow removal along these routes. The declaration may be cancelled sooner than 72 hours or it may be extended longer than 72 hours depending on how much snow needs to be removed.
Designated snow routes are primarily located in the downtown core and include all streetcar routes. They are all clearly signed. Parking on a designated snow route during a major snow event is subject to a fine of up to $200. A list of streets and a map show the streets that are impacted by the declaration of a major snow storm condition.
The declaration of a major snow storm condition will be publicized (typically through media and online. When a major snow storm condition is in effect, we encourage you to leave your vehicle at home and use public transit where possible.
Police, fire and ambulance services rely on clear roads to respond quickly to emergencies. Toronto Transportation is responsible for moving vehicles that delay our crews or hinder snow-clearing operations, even when a major snow storm condition has not been declared or when a vehicle is legally parked. In these instances vehicles are usually towed to an adjacent street. Call Toronto Police Service at 416-808-2222 to locate a vehicle that has been towed from a major arterial roadway. Illegally parked vehicles may be tagged, towed and impounded.
In January 2022, Toronto experienced an extraordinary winter storm that involved extreme cold temperatures, very rapid snowfall and snow accumulation of 55 centimetres – one of the top 10 amounts of snowfall recorded in the city.