Ville de Gatineau
Snow clearing operations and response times
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Snow clearing operations and response times
Snow clearing operations and response times

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Snow clearing operations begin as soon as the snow starts falling, and de-icing, involving the use of melters and abrasives, is initiated as soon as the road becomes slippery.

Factors that can influence the efficiency and duration of operations

  • Type of precipitation (snow, freezing rain, rain, blowing snow or mixed precipitation)
  • New precipitation before operations are completed
  • Extreme temperatures (extreme cold or warm spells)
  • Timing of the precipitation (peak periods or overnight)
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Temperature variations (thaw followed by freezing)

Intervention timeframes

Snow clearing and de-icing operations on the main arteries and collectors start as soon as precipitation begins. For side streets, snow clearing starts as soon as 5 cm has accumulated on the ground and in accordance with operational priorities.

Snow clearing routes are planned to ensure your safety and operational efficiency, and to reduce intervention times.

Given that several factors can affect the process, duration and efficiency of winter interventions, three different levels of service have been prescribed under the Politique de viabilité hivernale according to the type of situation.

Standard situation An event that does not present any operational challenges

  • Black ice formation
  • Snowfall under 15 cm
  • Mixed precipitation: snowfall under 10 cm accompanied by rain
Difficult situation An event that could present operational challenges

  • Snowfall between 15 and 25 cm
  • Freezing rain between 0 and 10 mm
  • Mixed precipitation: snowfall between 10 and 20 cm accompanied by rain
Critical situation An event that will certainly present operational challenges

  • Snowfall over 25 cm
  • Freezing rain over 10 mm
  • Mixed precipitation: snowfall over 20 cm accompanied by rain

Service levels for clearing streets, sidewalks and multi-purpose pathways

Priority Timeframe (once precipitation ends)1
Standard situation Difficult situation Critical situation
Roads 12 h 16 h 24 h2
Sidewalks 16 h 20 h 24 h2
Pathways / bike paths 16 h 20 h 24 h2

1 In the event of new precipitation while operations are underway, the timeframe is reset and snow clearing operations start again on the main arteries, collectors, sidewalks and priority pathways.

2 It may be difficult to achieve service levels on certain side streets and sidewalks and on multi-purpose pathways under certain extreme conditions.

Order of priority of operations

Snow clearing operational priorities are set to ensure your safety and operational efficiency, and to reduce intervention times. The priority is on the busiest roadways.

Priorities for roadways

Order of priority Roadway
1 Main arteries
These are the major axes used mainly to move traffic between the urban centres, and in specific locations3.
(examples: ch. d'Aylmer, boul. Saint-Joseph, boul. Maloney, av. de Buckingham)
2 Collectors
These are roads used to get between side streets and main arteries. These roads also provide access to important local infrastructures, such as schools, sports centres, industrial parks and libraries.
(examples: ch. Fraser, boul. du Mont-Bleu, av. Gatineau, rue Maclaren)
3 Side streets
These are all other streets, whether residential or rural, generally located within 1 km of a collector.

3 These are specific locations, regardless of the order of priority of the roadway, where intervention is required over a short distance for safety reasons, such as certain curves, steep hills, bridges, overpasses and certain intersections.

Priorities for the pedestrian system

Order of priority Sidewalks and pedestrian links
1 Sidewalks and links next to main arteries or in a school corridor.
2 Sidewalks and links next to collectors, or that provide access to public transit.
3 Sidewalks along side streets, and all other links whose maintenance is justified.

Priorities for bike paths

Order of priority Pathway
1 Bike paths that are part of the four-season bike path network.
2 Other bike links whose maintenance is justified.

Not all sidewalks, multi-purpose pathways and pedestrian links will be systematically cleared. In winter, Gatineau maintains an active mobility network extending over some 650 kilometres. The Politique de viabilité hivernale provides specific criteria for winter maintenance. Those criteria include the following:

  • The presence of public transit
  • The presence of a school corridor
  • The presence of a median
  • The presence of an important establishment (examples: school, hospital, CLSC, library)
  • The presence of a park offering winter activities
  • The presence of a one-way street
  • The presence of a high-density population

Snow clearing operations


An operation that uses snow clearing vehicles such as snow blowers and graders to push snow to the side of arteries.


An operation that involves spreading melters, abrasives or a mix of the two. The type of material used depends on the condition of the road or sidewalk and on the temperature. Learn more about salt spreading and management.


An operation that involves cutting or scraping the layers of hardened snow and ice on an artery or sidewalk to remove those layers. The operation requires the use of melters and equipment.


An operation that involves blowing snow banks* to the side of the road or into a truck to be taken to a snow dump. Learn more about blowing snow to the side.

* Snow bank or windrow: the pile of snow that is created when a grader passes by.

Snow clearing statistics for Gatineau

More than 270 blue collar employees are ready to intervene during snow clearing operations, along with a few contractors to help out.

More than 3,000 km to clear, including:

  • main arteries: more than 450 km;
  • collectors: more than 1,000 km; and
  • side streets, sidewalks and multi-purpose pathways, including:
    • more than 1,400 km of side streets; and
    • approximately 650 km of sidewalks and multi-purpose pathways.

More than 150 pieces of equipment used for snow clearing and maintaining the roads, including:

  • 50 trucks for spreading and snow clearing;
  • 23 graders;
  • 4 backhoes;
  • 17 wheel loaders;
  • 50 sidewalk plows;
  • 14 snow blowers, including removable ones; and
  • rental trucks in case of malfunctions.

6 snow dumps:

  • on rue Georges (Masson-Angers sector): 80,000 m3;
  • on rue Charles (Buckingham sector): 85,000 m3;
  • on boulevard Gréber (Gatineau sector): 300,000 m3;
  • on boulevard Saint-René Est (Gatineau sector): 98,000 m3;
  • on rue Buteau (Hull sector): 350,000 m3; and
  • the Lafarge private dump (Aylmer sector): unlimited (fee).

About Gatineau

Recognized for its quality of life, Gatineau is a city of 292,000 inhabitants. It is located on the north shore of the Ottawa River, and extends east and west of the Gatineau River.

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