A staff report with the results and recommendations of the trial (IE22.13) will be presented to City Council on June 8 and 9, 2021. Appendix F shows a map of locations that the trial determined as passable/non-passable for mechanical winter maintenance. See News & Updates for more details.
A small plow clearing snow from a tight space between a retaining wall and a parked car.


The City of Toronto has recently concluded a trial to test the use of smaller sidewalk snow plows. The purpose of the trail was to determine whether sidewalk snow clearing could be expanded to include areas of the city that do not currently receive mechanical plowing as part of the City’s winter maintenance program. These areas have previously been excluded because the existing fleet of larger sidewalk plows is unable to safely clear narrow sidewalks with frequent physical obstructions.

The smaller snow plows were tested on nine routes over two winter seasons to observe and document the performance of the machines in a range of snow conditions and street settings. In addition to winter testing on the nine trial routes, a study was conducted to develop an inventory of sidewalk conditions in all areas of the city that do not receive mechanical sidewalk clearing service.

The results of the trial and the inventory study will be presented to the Infrastructure & Environment Committee of City Council for consideration on May 25, 2021.

Report to City Council

The staff report will be presented to City Council for consideration on June 8 and 9, 2021.

Staff Report

A staff report with the results of the sidewalk trial and recommendations from Transportation Services (IE22.13 – Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial) will be presented to the Infrastructure & Environment Committee (IEC) of City Council on May 25, 2021.

Watch the Meeting

On June 8 and 9, 2021, watch the City Council meeting below. See the meeting agenda or the live status of Item IE22.13 – Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial through the meeting monitor.

June 8, 2021

June 9, 2021

Report to Infrastructure and Environment Committee

On May 25, 2021, the item (IE22.13) was considered and adopted with an amendment by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) of City Council.

The decision includes the recommendation that City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services to explore using the new winter maintenance equipment used as part of the Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial, on other active transportation infrastructure to see if it meets operation requirements, specifically on multi-use pathways and on bike lanes currently without physical separation, that could be serviced with the new equipment.

News Release

On May 17, 2021, Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto’s plan to expand sidewalk snow clearing to all neighbourhoods starting this winter.

Virtual Public Information Events

Four Virtual Public Information Events were held on May 10, 11, 13  and 17, 2021, from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. A total of nine Councillor’s offices and 307 residents attended the events, which included a presentation followed by a question and answer session.

Current Mechanical Sidewalk Clearing Program

Toronto has about 7,300 km of sidewalk. The City mechanically clears snow and ice from approximately 6,070 km of sidewalk (about 83 per cent) as part of the Winter Maintenance Program.

Under the current program, the City does not provide mechanical sidewalk clearing if:

  • the sidewalk is too narrow for current equipment or contains obstacles, such as utility poles
  • there is limited space to store snow cleared from the sidewalk (such as the presence of parked cars immediately adjacent the sidewalk)
  • there are encroachments from private properties (such as retaining walls or fences) that could be damaged by sidewalk plows

Seniors and Persons With Disabilities Sidewalk Clearing Program

Currently, seniors or people with disabilities who live in a part of the city without mechanical sidewalk clearing can apply for inclusion in a program that brings City workers to clear their sidewalks manually.

Sidewalks Not Cleared as Part of the Winter Maintenance Program

Where sidewalk clearing is not provided by the City, all home, property, and business owners must clear snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of, or adjacent to, their property within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall. The fine for not clearing snow from public property is $105 plus $30 surcharge.

Map showing the locations of the 6,070 km of mechanically cleared routes; 1,230 km of non-mechanically cleared routes; and 230 km of trial routes.

Nine smaller sidewalk plows were purchased by the City to clear approximately 230 km of sidewalk as part of the trial. Each of the smaller plows was assigned two routes, each ranging from 9 km to 15 km of sidewalk. The plows were deployed after 2 cm of snow accumulated, which is the same threshold used to activate the City’s existing fleet of larger sidewalk plows. Because each plow was able to clear one route per day, a full round snow clearing on the trial routes was completed in two days.

See a map of locations that the trial determined as passable/non-passable for mechanical winter maintenance.

Route Maps

  • Route 1: St. Clair Avenue, Rogers Road, Dufferin Street, Keele Street
  • Route 2: Bloor Street West, Jane Street, Runnymede Road, Annette Street, Dundas Street West
  • Route 3: Yonge Street, Avenue Road, Lawrence Avenue West, Eglinton Avenue West
  • Route 4: Bloor Street West, Roncesvalles Avenue, Parkside Drive, The Queensway
  • Route 5: Bloor Street West, Landsdowne Avenue, Ossington Avenue, Dufferin Street, Queen Street West
  • Route 6: Bloor Street West, Dupont Street, Ossington Avenue, Christie Street, Bathurst Street
  • Route 7: Danforth Avenue, Gerrard Street East, Broadview Avenue, Carlaw Avenue, Greenwood Avenue
  • Route 8: Gerrard Street East, Kingston Road, Woodbine Avenue, Main Street, Victoria Park Avenue
  • Route 9: Winona Drive, Davenport Road, Yonge Street, St. Clair Avenue West

The trial routes were designed to capture the most houses possible enrolled in the Seniors or Persons with Disabilities Snow Clearing Program. As a result, 1,443 houses enrolled in the program received mechanical clearing over the past two winter seasons, making the program more efficient while also providing a large enough area to effectively evaluate the equipment.

Although the trial was focused on clearing houses enrolled in the program, plow operators were directed to the entire length of sidewalk on each block, where possible. This continuous snow clearing allowed for better evaluation of the effectiveness of the new plows.

Transportation Services will continue to manually clear sidewalks for seniors or persons with disabilities enrolled in the program whose households were not included in the trial.