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)

Response times

Snow clearing and de-icing operations are initiated as soon as precipitation starts on the main arteries and collectors. Side streets are cleared once there has been an accumulation of 5 cm on the ground, in accordance with the established order of priorities.

Snow clearing routes are based on ensuring your safety, operational efficiency and the fastest possible response times.

After any precipitation, allow:

  • 16 hours for snow clearing to be completed over slightly more than 3,000 km of roads if precipitation was less than 25 cm;
  • 24 hours to clear the snow from all of the roads if precipitation was more than 25 cm; and
  • 24 hours to clear the snow from the sidewalks.

Order of priorities for snow clearing operations

Snow clearing operations are based on ensuring your safety, operational efficiency and the fastest possible response times.

Priority is given to roads with the most traffic:

1. Main arteries
These are the city's main axes.

2. Collectors
Collectors are those roads that link residential streets and the main arteries, streets near schools, daycares, bus stops, churches, health care centres and streets with steep hills.

3. Side streets, sidewalks and multi-purpose pathways (simultaneously)
Residential streets with little traffic are considered side streets.

Gatineau maintains approximately 650 km of sidewalks over the winter. The policy on snow clearing generally provides for the maintenance of one out of two sidewalks along the main arteries, collectors and side streets.

Sidewalks are cleared continuously following an accumulation of 5 cm on the ground or they become icy.

Response time: 24 hours to complete operations following the end of precipitations.

Sidewalks along side streets that meet the following criteria are not maintained:

  • narrow streets or lanes with very little traffic;
  • certain dead-end streets with no traffic and very few homes;
  • certain streets with partial sidewalks;
  • certain streets with sidewalks that are not connected to any others; or
  • certain streets where two-thirds of the residents have petitioned not to have their sidewalk cleared (revised in 2009).

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 operations according to the weather conditions

Condition Operation Order of priority
Slippery roads Spreading of melters and abrasives Main arteries, collectors, school corridors, bus routes, side streets (stops and dangerous hills)
Start of snow precipitation Clearing 1. main arteries; and
2. collectors (school corridors and bus routes).
Accumulation of 5 cm Clearing 1. main arteries;
2. collectors (school corridors and bus routes); and
3. side streets and sidewalks.
Snow precipitation of less than 25 cm Clearing completed within 16 hours following the end of the precipitation 1. main arteries;
2. collectors (school corridors and bus routes) and side streets;
Clearing completed within 24 hours following the end of the precipitation 3. sidewalks.
Snow precipitation of more than 25 cm Clearing completed within 24 hours following the end of the precipitation All roads, streets and sidewalks
Following a precipitation Blowing to the side and grading (street widening) Wherever necessary

Snow clearing statistics for Gatineau

More than 230 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 130 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;
  • 42 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 291,000 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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