Snow Removal in Ottawa

As some residents have expressed concern regarding snow removal and maintenance in Ottawa in reference to timing and quality, I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents of the yearly standards the City of Ottawa has in place regarding priority of service.

On average, Ottawa receives approximately 240 cm of snow, 180 mm of rain, and 70 hours of freezing rain each winter and due to Ottawa’s vast geographical surface area, millions of dollars are budgeted for winter operations every year. Ottawa’s priority for winter road maintenance is to keep streets safe and passable by reducing the hazards caused by snow and ice accumulation.

Snow removal on roads is grouped in classes and by type as listed in the Council approved Maintenance Quality Standards for Roads, Sidewalks and Pathways. These standards are used to prioritize how frequently roads are plowed, how ice is controlled and how snow is removed.

Roads are classified into four major classes: Arterials, Major Collectors, Minor Collectors, and Residential.

Arterials (such as Hazeldean or Carp Rd) function as the arteries to our City, feeding traffic on high volume roads onto attaching Collector streets (Major such as Fernbank or Abbott and Minor such as Sweetnam or Springbrook) which then connect to Residential areas (Brigatine, Liard, Savage, etc). This categorical system helps to prioritize snow removal to the roads with the highest traffic demand first, the more-common and slightly less-busy Collector roads second, and the vast assortment of residential roads last.

The following chart (which can be viewed in full size by clicking here) describes the City of Ottawa’s Council approved Maintenance Quality Standards for snow and ice control on city roads after varying degrees of snowfall.

 

As accumulation begins:

  • Most high priority roads should be cleared to bare pavement within 2 hours of the end of accumulation. (ie Queensway)
  • Most arterial roads should be cleared to bare pavement within 3 hours of the end of accumulation (ie Hazeldean Road)
  • Most major collector roads should be cleared to bare pavement within 4 hours of the end of accumulation. (ie Abbott Street/Westridge)

After 5cm of accumulation:

  • Most minor collector roads should be cleared to bare pavement within 6-16 hours of the end of accumulation.
  • Most minor collector roads should be cleared to centre bare pavement within 6-16 hours of the end of accumulation.
  • Most minor collector roads should be cleared to snow packed surface within 6-16 hours of the end of accumulation.

After 7cm of accumulation:

  • Residential roads and lanes should be cleared to a snow packed surface within 10 hours of the end of accumulation.

After 10cm of accumulation:

  • Residential roads and lanes should be cleared to snow packed surface within 16 hours of the end of accumulation.
  • Private lanes are not plowed by City crews.
  • Bus stops are cleared within 24 hours of the end of accumulation.

It is important to note that in extreme winter storm conditions snow and ice control operations are carried out based on the capacity of resources in as continuous a manner as practicable‎.

When necessary, materials will be applied to keep roads safe.

Our road crews work tirelessly through winter storm events to ensure that residents can navigate roads and sidewalks safely. Some work double shifts to get the job done.

A PDF map of our ward with colour-coded street designations can be found by clicking here and I encourage every resident to take the time to learn their street classification. I hope this will be a useful tool in helping to provide a visual reference for residents in determining why two connected streets may not have received identical service.

I would like to thank residents for their patience following the snowfall events this week as I know that staff is working hard to ensure clear roadways across the city all winter long.