The City of Toronto announced its winter weather readiness plan on Thursday, staying on brand with the unveiling of a snow removal approach a full two days after the first major snowfall pulled sleepy-headlighted salt trucks and plows out of their annual hibernation.
Mayor Tory and city staff pledged a plan of action to keep roads, sidewalks, and bike lanes clear (spoiler alert: some sidewalks and bike lanes are currently blocked days after snowfall), as well as the frequent watermain breaks known to flood city streets on colder days.
The city has activated its fleet of snow-clearing equipment, stocked its salt domes, and even upgraded vehicles to better respond to buildups of frozen precipitation with improved GPS and communication technologies.
The announcement of this year’s approximately $109 million winter maintenance budget comes ten months to the day after a freak blizzard walloped Toronto with record amounts of snow, causing chaos and confusion on roads and transit lines that persisted for days, and even months after the initial blanket descended over the city.
“Winter can have a dramatic effect on our city but we are ready to take on the snow and colder temperatures,” said Mayor John Tory.
In what felt like a bid to quell the city’s collective unease about another huge dump of snow in the forecast, the mayor assured residents that “our crews are ready to tackle the tough parts of winter and keep people moving safely around the city. Crews are on standby 24/7 and are ready to respond quickly to weather changes and watermain breaks caused by freeze-thaw cycles.”
Over 1,400 pieces of snow clearing equipment will be on the ready this season, which the city says “will quickly mobilize when the weather changes,” and “are prepared to respond to the effects of cold winter weather 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
#SnowTO update: all roads are being salted, as required. Roads could still be slippery so pls slow down, follow at a safe distance, and use gentle braking, steering and acceleration. Pls help keep everyone on the road safe. #VisionZero @311Toronto @TO_Transport
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) November 17, 2022
Salt trucks will serve as the first line of defence in anticipation of snowfall and will continue during light snowfall events. Five centimetres is when the plows will kick into action, at least for expressways, major roads and transit routes.
Residential streets will only be plowed when snow reaches 8 cm depth, so keep those shovels handy.
Anyone who has grown accustomed to nerding out on PlowTO, the city’s salt truck and snow plow tracker, the system is in the midst of an upgrade and will relaunch for all your impatient plow-tracking needs in December.
“We have a comprehensive snow and ice plan that will keep Toronto’s roads safe,” said Barbara Gray, General Manager of Toronto Transportation Services.
“There are new winter clearing contracts in place for this coming winter season that will improve service delivery and provide high value for residents.”