**Important: snow-clearing deadlines start after the last snowflake has fallen in a storm **
Did you know that every winter, and with each and every snowfall, the City of Ottawa clears and maintains over 6000kms of roadways; 2500 kms of sidewalks and pathways; as well as many outdoor staircases, bus stops, and City facilities.
This is one of the biggest operational endeavours undertaken by the City every year, including well over 500 winter maintenance operators, and 600 pieces of equipment.
Below you will find helpful information on Ottawa’s winter operations, the City standards for snow clearing and timelines after a winter event, as well as frequently asked questions.
Listening to Resident Feedback
City of Ottawa staff have been listening to feedback from residents and have made several changes to how winter snow clearing operations are completed in this City.
- Alternating starting points on residential routes – start and end points for snow plow routes will change throughout the winter months. This means that no residential road will be stuck constantly being the last one to be cleared of snow.
- Around-the-clock maintenance of our sidewalks – to improve accessibility and access around our communities, City Crews will preform more frequent maintenance of our sidewalks and pathways. This will also help ensure that any snowbanks that are left by street plows, and block access to sidewalks, are cleared quickly and efficiently.
- Responding more proactively and aggressively to all types of winter events – simply put, City Staff will use weather reporting and monitor forecasts to deploy earlier and faster in response to winter events.
- And new this year – refitting all large snowplows with rubber-edged blades – this produces a “squeegee-effect”, for cleaner street scrapes (with less road damage), reduced noise while plowing, and a cleaner scrape means less salt use.
Ottawa Snow Clearing Standards
Snow clearing is done using a road-priority system, with high-use, emergency, and transit routes cleared first. Once accumulation starts, crews will be working on clearing and treating sidewalks, priority roads and this winter cycling networks.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will my street be plowed?
Using the road-priority clearing approach, high-use, emergency, and transit routes cleared first. Highways, major roads and arterials are prioritized, followed by secondary roads, minor collectors and then residential roads.
With the City now expanding its system for alternating their start and end points for snow clearing routes, this will make residential snow clearing times more equitable across the City, and means no roadway will consistently be the last to be cleared.
Did you know that snowplows do not make left-hand turns? This would cause a berm of snow (known as a windrow) blocking the street. This is also why, on some streets, there is more snow on one side of the street than the other.
My street is still not cleared. Who do I call?
Winter operations is huge undertaking! It is always best to review the municipal standards for snow clearing. These standards set the length of time the City has to clear roads, sidewalks and pathways and is set based on the type of roadway and amount of snowfall.
If your street, pathway, bus stop or bike lane have still not been cleared, or it seems like maybe the plow missed an area, it is always fastest to log a service request directly with 3-1-1 by phone or online. These service requests are sent directly to the roads crews, and will ensure that they get added to their work plans.
You can also email me at Laura.Dudas@ottawa.ca, and I can follow-up on your service request. Please make sure to include your service request number for easy tracking.
Every snowfall, I seem to be having a consistent issue with snow clearing. Who do I contact?
Before calling, it is always good to review the City standards for snow clearing. If your issue falls outside of these standard times, or has been ongoing, complaints can be made through 3-1-1, by phone or online. If it is a consistent and ongoing problem, please email me at Laura.Dudas@ottawa.ca, so that I can help connect you with the snow crews on a resolution.
The street plow has just come by and there is a large snowbank blocking the sidewalk!
Sidewalk and pathway clearing begins as soon as accumulation starts. This year, the City Crews will preform earlier and more frequent maintenance of our sidewalks and pathways. This means that sidewalk plows will be by more frequently to ensure access to sidewalks and pathways is maintained.
When are snowbanks along the street be removed?
Snowbanks are removed or reduced in size when they begin to restrict sightlines, travel widths, or pedestrian, vehicular, and cycling traffic. Residents are responsible for snowbanks along their private driveway. Snowbank removal operations come secondary to standard snow clearing. If snowbank removal operations are underway and a storm begins or is approaching, teams may temporarily be redeployed.
What is a winter weather parking ban?
From November 15 to April 1, when Environment Canada forecasts significant freezing rain or at least seven centimetres of snow (including ranges such as five to ten), the City of Ottawa may call a winter weather parking ban. Vehicles without valid residential parking permits that remain parked on the road during a ban risk being ticketed and/or towed.
For more information, and to sign up for notifications when the City declares a winter weather parking ban, click here.
How will I know about a winter weather parking ban?
When a winter weather parking ban is called, the City issues:
- Special advisories to local media
- Posts to ottawa.ca
- Posts on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts
- 3-1-1 will update its Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system, informing anyone calling – without the need of waiting in queue to speak with a live agent
- Residents can sign up to receive an email of the Winter Parking Ban e-alerts, or can stay in the know by downloading the City of Ottawa app on their Android or Apple device.