Start of snow clearing operations

Snow clearing and de-icing operations are planned according to daily weather forecasts. Snow clearing operations begin as soon as the precipitation starts, and de-icing activities begin as soon as the roads get slippery, at which point ice melters and abrasives are spread.

Factors that could impact how operations are organized and how long they take:

  • Type of precipitation (snow, freezing rain, rain, flurries, mix of precipitations)
  • New precipitation starting before the previous one is completely cleaned up
  • Extreme temperatures (extreme cold, unseasonably high temperatures in winter)
  • Timing (rush hour or at night)
  • Equipment breakdown

Examples:

Snow clearing operations in response to a storm that involves a mix of snow and freezing rain followed by extremely cold days is very different from snow-clearing operations in response to a 20-centimetre snowstorm at -10 °C. The timing of the precipitation also has a significant impact on operations because of the volume of traffic on the roads.

Response times

Snow clearing and de-icing operations start as soon as there is any precipitation on the main arteries and collectors. Side streets, on the other hand, are cleared once 5 centimetres have accumulated on the ground, following the established order of operational priorities.

Snow clearing routes are planned to ensure your safety, operational efficiency, and quick response.

Once the precipitation has ended, it can take up to:

  • 16 hours to complete snow clearing over almost 3,000 kilometres of roads if less than 25 centimetres fell, and
  • 24 hours for sidewalks and if more than 25 centimetres fell.

Also, it is important to remember that if more precipitation occurs while operations are underway, the response time and priorities are reset to zero. This means that snow-clearing operations continue, starting with the main arteries and collectors, then moving back to the side streets, where the snow-clearing operations were interrupted.

Overnight parking on the street is prohibited while snow-clearing operations are underway when Environment Canada has forecast a snow accumulation of 5 to 10 centimetres or more.

Operational priorities: A question of safety and efficiency

The priorities for snow-clearing operations are designed to ensure your safety, operational efficiency and quicker response times.

The priority is on the streets with the heaviest traffic, that is to say the main arteries and the collectors, in order to provide safe access to side streets and to ensure smooth traffic throughout the city.

The order of priorities is as follows:

1. The main arteries

These are the city's main roads.

  • More than 450 kilometres of the roadway to clear
  • 7,000 to 15,000 vehicles a day

2. The collectors

The collectors are the streets that connect the side streets and the main arteries, the streets near schools, day-care centres, bus stops, churches and health-care centres, as well as those with steep hills.

  • More than 1,000 kilometres of the roadway to clear
  • 1,000 to 7,000 vehicles a day

3. The side streets

These are residential streets with little traffic.

  • More than 1,400 kilometres of the roadway to clear

4. Sidewalks and pedestrian pathways (at the same time as the side streets)

  • More than 550 kilometres of sidewalks to clear

Snow-clearing operations

Condition Operation Location
Slippery streets Spreading of ice melters and abrasives Main arteries, collectors, school corridors, bus routes, side streets (more dangerous stops and slopes)
Snow starting to fall Clearing Order of priority:
1. Main arteries
2. Collectors (school corridors and bus routes)
Accumulation of 5 cm Clearing Order of priority:
1. Main arteries
2. Collectors (school corridors and bus routes)
3. Side streets (at the same time as sidewalks)
Precipitation of less than 25 cm of snow Complete clearing within 16 hours after the precipitation stops.

Complete clearing within 24 hours after the precipitation stops
Main arteries, collectors and side streets throughout the territory.

Sidewalks
Precipitation or more than 25 cm of snow Complete clearing within 24 hours after the precipitation stops Everywhere, including sidewalks
After the precipitation (as required) Blow snow to the side and plow (widen streets) Wherever necessary
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