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Winter Maintenance

Snow removal service for the City of Owen Sound follows a Council approved Winter Maintenance Level of Service Policy (as amended) so that roads and sidewalks are plowed and salted or sanded in the most timely and effective manner.

On average, Owen Sound receives about 300 centimetres (10 feet) of snow each winter.  A major snowfall event can produce an accumulation of 30 to 60 centimetres (12 to 24 inches) of snow.

The City of Owen Sound utilizes the following equipment to maintain 280 (lane) kilometres of roadway, 100 kilometres of sidewalk, 19 municipal/facility parking lots, and various walkways, steps and pathways.

  • Four snow plow/salter trucks
  • Two sidewalk machines
  • Two motor graders
  • One loader plow
  • One loader blower

Current Weather

Owen Sound Web Cams

Bayshore Webcam

Weather and road conditions can change quickly during the winter season.  To assist with planning your travelling needs, please check the current weather and road conditions by visiting the following websites.

Winter Roadway Service

As winter approaches weather conditions are monitored regularly, traction control materials are stockpiled, equipment is prepared for winter maintenance, and staff review routes and undergo training to prepare for the first snowfall.  The first significant snowfall can be as early as October or as late as December. 

The City’s Traffic By-law prohibits on street parking from December 1st to March 31st between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. or parking on a road in a manner that interferes with plowing operations.  Plow operators need clear roadways to complete their routes safely and efficiently.

Under the Highway Traffic Act, residents are not allowed to deposit snow on the roadway.  When clearing snow, pile it on your property – do not shovel it onto the sidewalk, onto the road, or across the road.  This practice is dangerous because it covers the traction control applied to the roadway, which may cause motorists to lose control when driving through the snow pile.

Classification of Roadways

Our winter road maintenance plan is based on the assumption that not all roadways need to be maintained at the same level of service.   The level of service provided varies according to its role in the transportation network, and on other various services the City provides.  To simplify the determination of levels of service the road network has been divided into classes which determine the overall priority for snow clearing and ice control.

Winter Road Classification Map [pdf]

The following table summarizes the road classifications within the City.

Road Classification

Class

Description

1

The City does not have any Class 1 roadways within its jurisdiction.

2

Connecting Link, County, Arterial and Collector roads that carry traffic to and through the City, as well as emergency routes for hospital and fire services.

3

Arterial and Collector roads that carry medium volumes of traffic through the City and local traffic within the City, as well as Public Transit routes.

4

Collector and Local roads that carry low volumes of traffic to and from a specific address as well as any road that a school fronts onto, or street that connects such roads to the closest Arterial or Collector road.

5

All remaining roads that may service residential, industrial, or commercial addresses, but not including dead end stubs or cul-de-sacs.

6

All dead end stubs and cul-de-sacs that may service residential, industrial, or commercial addresses.

Level of Service for Roadways

The primary goal of winter operations is to provide a safe and passable roadway for motorists, and emergency response vehicles, with due regard for the prevailing conditions.  Winter response is accomplished as per the guidelines set forth in the Winter Maintenance Level of Service Policy and the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) for Municipal Highways, O. Reg. 239/02. The following table summarizes the level of winter maintenance service that the City provides.

Roadway Level of Service

Class

Winter Hazard

Description

For Class 2 & 3 roadways, treating and plowing roads commences as soon as snow beings to accumulate:

2 & 3

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially bare pavement, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within six (6) hours.

2 & 3

Icy Road

The objective is to treat the icy roadways as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the road is icy, and normally within four (4) hours.

Once 8cm (3”) of snow has accumulated:

4

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially centre bare pavement, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within sixteen (16) hours.

4

Icy Road

The objective is to treat the icy roadway as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the road is icy, and normally within twelve (12) hours.

Once 10cm (4”) of snow has accumulated:

5

Snow Accumulation

The objective is to make the road as safe as possible, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within twenty-four (24) hours.

5

Icy Road

The objective is to treat the icy roadway as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the road is icy, and normally within sixteen (16) hours.

Once 15cm (6”) of snow has accumulated:

6

Snow Accumulation

The objective is to make dead ends or cul-de-sacs as safe as possible, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within forty-eight (48) hours.

6

Icy Road

The objective is to treat the icy dead ends or cul-de-sacs as soon as practicable after becoming aware that they are icy, and normally within twenty-four (24) hours.

For unusual or severe conditions, or when equipment breakdowns occur, lower priority roadways may be delayed in an attempt to maintain the upper roadway classes at the service levels described above for both snow accumulation and ice control.

Winter Sidewalk Service

The City endeavours to provide a reasonable standard of care to prevent foreseeable harm to others.  For snow clearing and ice control operations, City sidewalks have been grouped into classes to prioritize resource deployment and the required time to clear snow from the end of accumulation.  When the amount of snow, due to heavy snowfalls or successive storm events, is so great that plowing is no longer effective, blower attachments are often used. When blowers are used, it takes approximately three times as long to complete sidewalk snow clearing operations.

Sidewalks in the Downtown Improvement Area are governed by City By-law No. 2008-046, where merchants are required to clear the sidewalk fronting their businesses.

Classification of Sidewalks

Sidewalks perform a different function in the transportation network than roadways, and their priority for winter maintenance should reflect the use of pedestrian traffic.  To simplify the determination of levels of service the sidewalk network has been divided into classes, which determine the overall priority for snow clearing and ice control.

Winter Sidewalk Classification Map [pdf]

The following table summarizes the sidewalk classifications within the City.

Sidewalk Classification

Class

Description

1

Sidewalks located within a Special Event area, when the Special Event is scheduled to occur, with a duration of less than 3 days. 

Sidewalks along 1st Ave E. in the 700 and 800 block and sidewalks along 1st Ave. W. in the 800 and 900 block during the Festival of Northern Lights.

2

Sidewalks on bridges and steep hills along Class 2 roadways. 

Sidewalks along Class 2 or 3 roadways that directly serve an Institution such as a school or hospital, as well as common safe access routes to schools that connect crossing guard locations.

Sidewalks along Class 2 or 3 roadways that directly serve Commercial areas such as Regional Shopping Centres, Arterial Commercial, East and West City Commercial, and the Downtown Improvement Area and associated corners. 

Where sidewalks exist on both sides of a Class 2 or 3 roadway that meet the above criteria, only one side will be cleared initially.

3

The remaining sidewalks located along Class 2 or 3 roadways, and sidewalks along Public Transit Service Routes.

Sidewalks that service large senior housing complexes, including retirement homes and senior apartments, as well as large social housing complexes.

4

Sidewalks along Class 4 roadways in Residential or Commercial areas and sidewalks that transport pedestrians to and within Parks and Open Space.

Where sidewalks exist on both sides of a Class 4 roadway in a Residential or Commercial area, only one side will receive winter maintenance, except in the Downtown Improvement Area.  The remaining sidewalk will be considered a Class 6 sidewalk.  The selection of which sidewalk receives winter maintenance will be determined on an individual basis to ensure a smooth sidewalk transportation network in accordance with the City’s Official Plan.

5

Sidewalks in Residential areas along Class 5 roadways. 

Where sidewalks exist on both sides of a Class 5 roadway in a Residential area, only one side will receive winter maintenance.  The remaining sidewalk will be considered a Class 6 sidewalk. The selection of which sidewalk receives winter maintenance will be determined on an individual basis to ensure a smooth sidewalk transportation network in accordance with the City’s Official Plan.

6

Sidewalks in Residential areas along a Class 5 roadway where no sidewalk precedes or follows and any sidewalk along a Class 6 roadway.

Any walkway, sidewalk, staircase, or pathway along any class of roadway that terminates mid-block or does not provide a continuous connection to another component of the sidewalk network.

Any curb-faced sidewalk along any class of narrow roadway that could be better utilized for roadway snow storage provided this function does not impede the natural flow of pedestrian traffic.

Any walkway or pathway along and adjacent to a vertical drop, large body of water, or along a steep grade where the public and operator’s safety is compromised.

Sidewalks in Residential areas along a Class 5 Roadway that loop within a subdivision circling back to the place of origin.

Level of Service for Sidewalks

All sidewalks will be maintained in a smooth snow packed condition due to the limitations of the sidewalk clearing equipment to get down to the bare surface, unless specified otherwise.

When icy conditions exist, sanding/salting will be undertaken as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the sidewalks are icy, within the same priority sequence and time frames set out below.

Sidewalk Level of Service

Class

Winter Hazard

Description

Treating and plowing sidewalks commences only after 5cm (2”) of snow has accumulated:

1

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially bare surface, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within twelve (12) hours.

2

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially to remove snow down to a smooth snow packed surface, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within twenty-four (24) hours.

3

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially to remove snow down to a smooth snow packed surface, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended, and normally within forty-eight (48) hours.

Once 8cm (3”) of snow has accumulated:

4

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially to remove snow down to a smooth snow packed surface, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended. No minimum servicing time is specified.

Once 10cm (4”) of snow has accumulated:

5

Snow Accumulation

The objective is essentially to remove snow down to a smooth snow packed surface, to be reached as soon as possible, after a storm has ended. No minimum servicing time is specified.

6

Snow Accumulation

No winter sidewalk maintenance will be provided on identified Class 6 sidewalks.

For unusual or severe conditions, or when equipment breakdowns occur, lower priority sidewalks may be delayed in an attempt to maintain the upper sidewalk classes at the service levels described above for both snow accumulation and ice control.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q : What streets are the first to be plowed?

A : The City’s road network is divided into five (5) different classifications for winter maintenance purposes based on the average traffic and posted speed of the roadway. By having different classifications it allows City resources to focus their attention on heavily travelled roadways first. Once these primary roadways are completed, local residential streets are started. Dead ends and cul-de-sacs are lower priority and are the last to receive service.

Q : When is the plow getting to my street?

A : During an active snow event it can take between 6 to 48 hours to attend to all the roads in Owen Sound, so we ask for your patience and understanding that we are out there, maintaining the roads as best we can. The City of Owen Sound is geographically, a challenging municipality to maintain when focusing on winter operations. For example weather conditions below the escarpment can differ considerably to areas that are above the escarpment.

Q : When is my sidewalk getting plowed? The sidewalk across the street has been cleared, why not mine?

A : As a priority, we try to service one side of the street, on as many streets as possible.Heavily travelled routes and routes leading directly to schools are first priority. All other sidewalks are cleared after these primary sidewalks are completed, as manpower and equipment permit.

Q : What is a windrow and why can’t the operator lift the blade in front of my house?

A : A windrow is a pile of snow on the side of a road that was created by snow plowing equipment.Snow must be pushed to the side of the street to clear the roadway for traffic.

Lifting the blade of the snow plowing equipment in front of a home to reduce the windrow is not allowed. Snow plow equipment is put into operation to clear the snow off the roadway, and in order for this to happen the blade must stay in contact with the road surface at all times.

Sometimes it is necessary to make several passes with snow plowing equipment during a storm.At other times it will be necessary to push back the banks to allow room for more snow and to provide room for drainage during thaw cycles.

Q : I have to get out of my driveway for work/appointment etc. and the street has not been plowed.  What should I do?

A : During periods of heavy snowfalls there may be delays.It is always best to plan ahead.If you know it is going to snow leave yourself extra travel time.

Q : What do I do if I have a medical emergency?

A : In the event of a medical or other emergency, call 9-1-1.  During winter control, emergency services will coordinate with Public Works and we will work in cooperation with police, fire, and ambulance to make sure they can reach you.

Q : I am not physically able to shovel my driveway will the City do it for me?

A : The City cannot clear snow from private property under any circumstance.  You may be able to get assistance from a family member, a friend, or a neighbour. As well a number of private snow clearing companies will provide this service. Check the Yellow Pages for listings.

Q : Why doesn’t the plow do a better job clearing snow from my cul-de-sac?

A : It is very difficult for an operator to maneuver large equipment in a cul-de-sac in such a manner to clear all the snow. One of the primary purposes of a cul-de-sac is to provide storage room for excess snow during winter operations. Snow that is piled up in the centre of the cul-de-sacs will be scheduled for removal based on the availability of manpower and equipment.

Q : Why does the City place salt on top of the snow and then plow?

A : In addition to providing some traction improvement, the reaction of the salt mixture with the snow creates a brine solution at the road surface.  This brine helps to break the bond between the snow/ice and the road and ultimately facilitates easier removal with snow plowing equipment.  Generally, after the roads have received a treatment of salt, the snow plowing equipment are dispatched to remove the “slushy” snow.  Since the blades of snow plowing equipment ride slightly above the road surface the salt is not entirely plowed off the road.

Q : The snow plowing equipment came and went, but there are still roads that need to be plowed.  Will they be cleared?

A : Yes. Not all neighbourhoods are completed at once, but all roads, streets, dead ends, and cul-de sacs will be cleared of snow based on the availability of manpower and equipment.

Q : I could not park in my driveway, so I parked on the road and I go a ticket. Why?

A : Parking on the street is prohibited during the winter under Traffic By-law 2009-075 between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. from December 1st to March 31st every year.  The streets must be clear of parked cars for adequate snow clearing operations.  Parking on the street could result in unsafe conditions.  Please plan ahead and make other arrangements.

Q : I live on a corner lot.  Why does the plow put so much snow in front of my house?

A : Residents living on corner lots usually get a bit more snow deposited in front of their houses, as there is a larger portion of roadway to be cleared at an intersection.

Q : What can I do to prepare for a snow storm?

A : Keep parked cars off the street, so that plows can move through the streets more effectively.Use public transit whenever possible. When a snow storm is in the forecast you should ensure that you purchase any food, medication, and household supplies that you might need for the next 48 hours.Other tips can be found by viewing any of the following guides:

 

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