Snow removal FAQs

Suburbs

When it's snowing and the weather forecast predicts a big snowfall, City of Kitchener operations staff move into action. Here are some answers to the questions we get most often about clearing snow on roads and sidewalks.

 Sidewalks

We must all work together to ensure residents can travel safely. The public is responsible for keeping sidewalks around their property free of snow and ice within 24 hours after a snowfall. Unshovelled sidewalks can create issues for individuals with disabilities, older adults, parents with strollers, other mobility devices.

How long do I have to clear the sidewalk before bylaw enforcement begins? How is it enforced?

You have 24 hours from when the snow stops falling. City bylaws require property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from sidewalks. When staff receive a complaint about an unshovelled sidewalk, they inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. If the sidewalk is not cleared upon re-inspection, the resident will be invoiced for snow removal by the city. 

Homeowners can pick up free sand for icy walks at the Kitchener Operations Facility, 131 Goodrich Dr., Kitchener (go to gates 3 & 4 off of Wabanaki Drive).

 What can you do to get people to shovel their sidewalks?
Every year, the city conducts an outreach campaign to let people know about their responsibility to remove snow and ice from sidewalks (according to city bylaws). To report unshovelled walks, call 519-741-2345. When a complaint is received, staff will inspect the property and issue a notice to the resident. If the sidewalk is not cleared upon re-inspection, city staff will remove the snow and invoice the resident.
 I am unable to clear my sidewalks. Who can help me?

There are agencies who provide snow removal to seniors or other individuals who are unable to clear their sidewalks. Fees may apply. Please call:

Contact your local high school to see if there are students who need volunteer hours and can help you through the winter. The city has also created a Snow Angel program to recognize those who help their neighbours clear their sidewalks. Learn more about the program or nominate a Snow Angel who has cleared your sidewalk.

Why doesn't the city plow sidewalks?
Budget constraints do not provide sufficient resources to allow for this service. Also, according to a city report on winter sidewalk maintenance (2016), municipalities that implemented city-wide sidewalk snow-clearing identified that service levels are inconsistent, and sidewalks are maintained to snow-packed, not bare, conditions.
Why do plows go so fast and throw snow on my sidewalk?

Sorry! There is no practical way to avoid pushing snow into driveway entrances during plowing operations. To avoid additional work, we suggest you delay clearing your driveway entrance until your street is cleared full width.

Plows must maintain a minimum speed to throw snow off to the side. Some sidewalks are very close to the curb and it is difficult to avoid getting snow on them. Please call 519-741-2345 to report these situations and we may remove the snow.

What about bus stops, or fire hydrants, or mailboxes? Who is responsible for clearing snow around those?

If you see that the hydrant closest to your home is buried by drifts or snowbanks, please dig it out or call the Kitchener Fire Department at 519-741-2582 or City of Kitchener at 519-741-2529 and select option #3.

Mail boxes: Please call Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177.

Bus stops: All inquiries should be directed to the Region – Grand River Transit 519-585-7555.

 Roads

 

Can't the city remove snow they've put in my driveway?
Considering the large number of driveways in the city, it is too costly and time-consuming to use additional personnel and equipment to perform this service.
I'm concerned about the environment. Why don't you do more plowing and less sand and salt?

We're concerned about the environment, too. We are a leader in salt management including using anti-icing methods to reduce salt usage on winter roads. Anti-icing is a salt brine mixed with beet juice applied to the roadway before a snow event. This prevents snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and makes snow removal more efficient because less salt is needed to return roads to bare pavement.

Sanding or salting is required if ice is present. Sand is applied on designated routes when temperatures are below -12°C. Salt is used on designated routes including hills, grades and intersections, when temperatures are above - 12°C.

I see a lot of grass damaged by snow-clearing vehicles when the snow has melted. Will the damaged grass be fixed?
Yes. We begin repairs to any exposed grass areas damaged by snow-clearing operations along roadways and winter-maintained trails when we are confident that the snow is done falling, usually by early April. When we repair the grass, we apply topsoil, grade and seed the damaged area. Once we begin, it takes about six weeks to complete repairs across the city.
 How do I report damaged grass?
Damaged grass can be reported to the City of Kitchener Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345. Grass damage at bus stops should be reported to Grand River Transit at 519-585-7555.
 General
 
 When it snows, what can I do to help?
  • If you live in the City of Kitchener, respect the tag-and-tow bylaw: Keep parked cars off streets wherever possible;

  • Clear snow and ice from your sidewalks;

  • Don't push snow back onto roads - please shovel it onto private property;

  • Please place garbage and recycling in the driveway area and NOT on the roadway on your collection day.

  • Remind children not to climb or play on snowbanks;

  • If your fire hydrant or gas meter is buried by snow and ice, please clear it;

  •  Use public transit wherever possible.

 Who is responsible for snow removal at bus stops?
 All inquiries should be directed to Grand River Transit at 519-585-7555.

What's it like to be a snowplow driver? Catch a ride with a driver in this video to find out.

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