The City of Toronto is ready for winter. Snow-clearing equipment is arriving, salt supplies have been replenished, mapping and communication technology is ready to be enabled and crews are prepared to respond to the effects of cold weather on the City’s watermains and water service pipes.
Toronto budgets more than $90 million annually to ensure that its roads and sidewalks are clear and safe during the winter season.
The City has the following staff and equipment in its winter operations fleet:
- more than 1,500 personnel (contracted and City staff) on standby 24/7
- 600 snow plows
- 300 sidewalk plows
- 200 salt trucks
- 200 pickup and dump trucks
- 200 smaller pickups
In addition, cold weather and rapid swings between thaw and freezing temperatures can cause an increase in watermain breaks. City staff are ready to respond to service calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As soon as the snow begins to fall, salt trucks are deployed to the expressways and main roads. Local roads and laneways are salted soon after the main roads. The City’s first priority during a snowfall is to keep the main roads clear for emergency and TTC vehicles. After that, crews move on to the local roads and usually complete clearing those roads between 14 and 16 hours after the storm ends.
The City has also identified a priority network of bike lanes and cycle tracks in the downtown core that will continue to receive enhanced winter maintenance, including snow plowing and salting to improve safety for cyclists.
Staff will diligently monitor weather again this season. Contracts are flexible so snow-removal equipment can be released later or earlier, depending on late-season weather forecasts such as for a late-winter storm.
More information about the City of Toronto’s snow-clearing operations, including how and where the City deploys trucks and personnel, how snow clearing is prioritized, and more is available at http://www.toronto.ca/snow.
Residents can track salt-truck locations and identify which roads have been serviced using the online tracking map at http://www.toronto.ca/PlowTO.
More information about sidewalk snow-clearing in Toronto and a map of the areas where the service is provided are available at http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/snow/sidewalks.
Details about the City’s Salt Management Plan are available at http://www.toronto.ca/salt.
Cold weather is a major cause of watermain breaks but it is not the only one. The City is dealing with aging infrastructure, with the average watermain 59 years of age. To address this issue, the City of Toronto has committed $1.9 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its watermain distribution system. More information can be found at http://www.toronto.ca/watermains.
Cold weather can cause pipes inside the home and on private property to freeze. Residents are reminded to prepare their pipes for winter by wrapping foam pipe insulation around pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attics and garages. It is also important to seal air leaks around windows and doors, and to disconnect hoses and drain and shut the outdoor water supply. More tips are available at http://www.toronto.ca/frozenpipes.
Residents can learn more about how to prepare for extreme weather and weatherproof their homes at http://www.toronto.ca/extremeweatherready.