City of Toronto gearing up for winter season


With winter just around the corner, the City of Toronto is once again getting ready to tackle snow and ice when it hits the streets.

Winter is also high season for watermain breaks. Cold weather plus rapid swings between periods of thaw and freezing put pipes under stress. Crews are ready to respond to minor and severe breaks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We are prepared for whatever winter throws at us this season," said Mayor Rob Ford. "We have our fleet of equipment – 600 snow plows, 300 sidewalk plows and 200 salt trucks that will keep the roads and sidewalks clear and safe during winter for the travelling public. Keeping the main roads clear for emergency and TTC vehicles is our main priority. After that, we'll move on to the local roads. We usually complete these roads between 14 and 16 hours after the storm ends."

As soon as the snow begins, Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks to the expressways and main roads, while local roads and laneways are salted soon after. Once 2.5 centimetres of snow has accumulated, then plowing will begin on the expressways and when five centimetres has accumulated, plowing will begin on the main roads. Plowing on the expressways and main roads will continue until the operation is complete.

Once the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches eight centimetres, local road plowing will begin. During this time, snow service requests will not be taken by 311. Residents are asked to only call 311 during the storm if they would like to report an urgent winter-related concern. Residents are asked to not call 311 during the storm to ask when their street will be cleared.

"Residents can play a role in assisting with our snow clearing efforts," said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), Chair of the City's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. "Doing a few simple things like not pushing snow back onto the road after clearing snow from their sidewalks and driveways, avoiding parking on city streets to help the plows do their work, and taking public transit whenever possible can really help out."

The City will also open driveway windrows wherever it is mechanically possible to do so. Typically, driveway windrows are opened between one and two hours of the road being plowed. This service is meant to open up an area about the size of a single car width in order to make it more convenient to enter or exit the driveway.

The City will clear snow from sidewalks on local roads where it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimetres of snow has fallen (five centimetres in January and February). In the central core of the city, property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow 12 hours after a storm has taken place.

To learn more about sidewalk snow clearing in Toronto and to view a map of the areas where the service is provided, visit

Besides snow and cold weather, there are numerous causes of watermain breaks and the City is taking steps to address the ongoing problem, currently spending $110 million to improve the watermain distribution system. Toronto Water is dealing with aging infrastructure and through the capital infrastructure renewal program, approximately 40 to 60 kilometres of watermain pipes are being replaced annually. In addition, three rehabilitation programs continue: cathodic protection of watermain pipes, cleaning and cement mortar lining, and structural lining.

Response crews are available 24/7 to locate, assess and repair watermain breaks in order to restore service as quickly as possible.

More information about watermain breaks is available at

More information about the City of Toronto’s winter operations is available at

Do you like this post?


  • Marci Ien
  • Ya'ara Saks
  • Vijay Thanigasalam
  • Doly Begum
  • David Smith
  • Aris Babikian
  • Peter Tabuns
  • Adil Shamji
  • Vincent Ke
  • Stephanie Bowman

Marci Ien just joined.

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.