Snow Removal - Frequently Asked Questions
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Snow Removal - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens when it starts to snow? 
  2. Why do I never see a salt truck when it snows?
  3. How do you decide what streets are on these main salt routes?
  4. Why don't we plow and salt all the streets in the city, specifically secondary and residential streets?
  5. Why do you not use sand for winter control?
  6. Why does the plow not remove all the snow from my road?
  7. Why do the plows always push snow into my driveway?
  8. Why don't you clean my driveway?
  9. I only have on-street parking. Why do you always plow snow against my car?
  10. Who removes the snow from sidewalks?
  11. What if I am unable to clear snow from my sidewalk because of age or disability?
  12. Who is responsible for the clearing of wheelchair ramps?
  13. Who is responsible for clearing bus stops?
  14. How much does the City spend on winter control annually?
  15. Do you salt and plow alleys?
  16. Who is responsible for clearing snow around Canada Post Super Mailboxes?
  17. Why does the plow drive up my road with the blade up?
  18. What can I do to help?

1. What happens when it starts to snow?

The City of Windsor subscribes to an advanced weather forecasting service. Depending upon the timing and nature of the pending storm, crews are brought in and put on stand-by. Once the storm starts, salt trucks are sent out on designated salt routes to apply salt as necessary.

2. Why do I never see a salt truck when it snows?

It all depends upon where you live. The City's main salt routes are maintained by 21 vehicles covering 1,067 lane kilometres or road at a cost of approximately $12,000/hour. Depending upon the time of day, traffic volumes and snowfall amounts, the average routes can take between 3 and 6 hours to complete one pass. The trucks will continue back over these routes until the storm has stopped and these streets are clear of snow and ice.

3. How do you decide what street on these main salt routes?

The main salt routes comprise of the E.C. Row Expressway, arterial roads and collector roads, as defined by traffic volumes, fire/hospital emergency routes and Transit Windsor bus routes.

4. Why don't we plow and salt all the streets in the City, specifically secondary and residential streets?

Secondary and residential streets are not plowed and salted unless the City has received a snowfall in excess of 10 centimetres (4 inches). The cost to plow and salt all residential streets is in excess of $300,000 per event. A balanced level of service according to the roadway classification and traffic volumes reduces both equipment costs and salt usage. This balanced level of service has long proven to be the most efficient with respect to maximizing the available tax dollars and minimizing environmental damages.

5. Why do you not use sand for winter control?

Salt is a very effective de-icing agent and is effective to temperatures as low as -12oC (10oF). Sand has no de-icing properties. It is mainly used where winter temperatures are continually below -12oC (10oF). Sand is an abrasive substance and is used to increase traction for vehicles. However, cleanup of sand from roadways and sewers throughout the municipality proves cost prohibitive.

6. Why does the plow not remove all of the snow from my road?

The plows are designed to ride on "guides" (shoes) that raise the blade approximately 13 millimetres (0.5 inches) from the surface of the roadway. This is done to prevent damage to both the vehicle and infrastructure from raised manholes, catch basins or water valves. Once the street has been plowed and salted, the interaction of the salt and vehicular traffic is required to melt the remaining snow cover. Streets with low traffic volumes will therefore remain snow covered longer.

7. Why do the plows always push snow into my driveway?

For a resident this can be quite annoying, but unfortunately it cannot be helped. The snow must be removed from the travelled portion of the road. When the City receives a heavy snowfall, if possible, do not shovel your driveway until after the plow has gone by. If you must shovel do not throw the snow out onto the roadway as you may create a hazard for another vehicle, and if an accident were to occur you might be held liable.

8. Why don't you clean my driveway?

The City does not clean driveways for two reasons:

  1. There are approximately 70,000 driveways in the City. The cost to clean all the driveways would be over $300,000 per snow event.
  2. The liability to the City for damage to the driveway approaches is cost prohibitive.

9. I only have on-street parking. Why do you always plow snow against my car?

The City must remove the snow from the travelled portion of the road. On a two-way street where there is only parking on one side, the plow operator cannot push the snow away from the parked car into oncoming traffic, as it would create a hazard and liability. Snow is always pushed away from oncoming traffic. When heavy snowfalls are predicted, residents are asked where possible not to park on the roads. This is done to reduce the chance of plowing in parked vehicles, eliminating the chance of damaging vehicles and allowing for a more efficient plowing operation. The City realizes that not all residents have driveways and all attempts are made by the City to clean the off-street parking lots for those residents.

10. Who removes the snow from sidewalks?

Under City By-Law 8544, the owners and/or tenants are required to remove snow or ice in front of their property within 12 hours; owners or tenants of commercial properties have 4 hours following the snowfall or formation of ice. Clear sidewalks are essential for many citizens especially those with disabilities, people who enjoy walking as a form of exercise and children who walk to and from school. Snow covered sidewalks increase the likelihood of slip and fall accidents.

11. What if I am unable to clear the snow from my sidewalk because of age or disability?

Unfortunately, snow removal services are not available from the City. The City does coordinate the Snow Angels program for seniors and persons with disabilities. The program matches volunteers from the community with people requiring this service. Currently, the requests for service far exceed the number of volunteers, so you may also want to contact local community group to lend a hand. Snow Angels can be reached by calling 311.

12. Who is responsible for the clearing of wheelchair ramps?

The abutting property owner is responsible to clean the wheelchair ramp up to the edge of pavement.

13. Who is responsible for clearing bus stops?

Presently there is no formal policy to clear bus stops. However, the abutting property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalks. In snowfall events in excess of 15 centimetres (6 inches) accumulation, Transit Windsor priority 1 & 2 bus stops will be cleared.

14. How much does the City spend on winter control annually?

Winter control costs can significantly vary from year to year depending on the severity of the winter weather. The Public Works Operations Department budgets approximately $4 million annually for their winter control operations.

15. Do you salt and plow alleys?

The City does not salt or plow any alleys.

16. Who is responsible for clearing snow around Canada Post Super Mailboxes?

Canada Post is responsible for clearing the snow and ice around Super Mailboxes. Contact Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177 for more information.

17. Why does the plow drive up my road with the blade up?

  1. Plows drive with the blade up when en route to their clearing sector, or
  2. Plows drive with the blade up when only salting and the level of snow does not meet the criteria for snow plowing.

18. What can I do to help?

Residents and drivers can help by doing the following:

  • Be patient. In heavy snow falls, it takes us longer to get all our streets clear.
  • Stay alert, slow down, and stay in control when driving your vehicle.
  • Leave room for plows. When you see the blue flashing lights on the winter maintenance equipment, remain a safe distance behind them. Also, never pass a snow plow. This is an extremely dangerous practice.
  • Keep parked cars off streets wherever possible.
  • Shovel your sidewalk. City By-law 8544 requires all residents to clear the snow from sidewalks abutting their property.
  • Keep fire hydrants clear and visible.
  • Throw snow on your lawn, not on the street. Shoveling snow back onto the street creates unsafe road conditions for motorists and is prohibited by the Highway Traffic Act.

Contracts, Field Services & Maintenance Division
1531 Crawford Avenue
Windsor, Ontario
Canada
N8X 2A9
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Phone: For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, call (519) 255-6326.
Email: 311@citywindsor.ca