Snow removal

Suburbs

Here's the scoop

When it's snowing and the weather forecast predicts a big snowfall, City of Kitchener operations staff move into action. The city clears snow and ice from the roads and sidewalks around city-owned facilities, walkways and parks. Kitchener residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around their property. By working together, we can give residents safe and accessible transportation routes to get where they need to go.

Sign up to receive notices about Snow Events, which trigger the City of Kitchener's tag-and-tow parking bylaw. 

Get a handle on what's new this winter

Proactive bylaw inspection

New for the 2018/2019 winter season, bylaw officers will be proactively inspecting sidewalks citywide. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice, a bylaw officer will issue a one-time notice to the property owner and return within 24 hours. If the sidewalk has still not been adequately cleared, the city will clear it and the property owner will be invoiced approximately $400.

Assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing services

The Working Centre is offering assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing services for up to 50 properties. Apply online  to be considered for the program. Note: This is for sidewalks and windrow clearing only and does not include driveways or private walkways. A windrow is the pile of snow at the end of your driveway that is left after snow plows clear the road. 

Neighbourhood-shared snow blower program 

Get money to put towards a new snow blower for your neighbourhood. The city has grant funding for up to 10 neighbourhood snow blowers. Each snow blower is to be shared by residents living in the same neighbourhood to keep their sidewalks, driveways and walkways clear. Interested Kitchener residents can apply online to receive up to $500 towards the purchase of a new snow blower. 

The deadline to apply online is Nov. 16, 2018.

Neighbourhood-shared snow blower program FAQ's
 Who can apply for the grant?
A resident group of at least four people living in the same neighbourhood or in close proximity so that you can share the snow blower with each other.
 How do we determine a route to clear?
Resident groups will be asked to identify which sidewalks in their neighbourhood they can commit to clear using the shared snow blower. Pick a route that is manageable for the group to clear. The route may help your neighbours, or help form part of a route to a community destination like a community mailbox or nearby school. The route doesn’t have to be huge! Through the application process, the city may give you some ideas or feedback on your identified route.  
 Can I use the snow blower to clear my driveway?
Yes. It is also important that the snow blower is used to clear sidewalks along the route that the resident group identified. 
 Do I need to give the snow blower back to the city?
No, the resident group will own the snow blower. The city is providing $500 to help you purchase one for your neighbourhood. The snow blower is owned by the resident group. The names of the resident group are to be included in the application form. 
 What information do I need to provide the city?
This is a pilot project. We want to hear your feedback on how the program went after the 2018-2019 winter season. Your feedback may help us determine if the program was a success, and if it should continue in the future.  
 How much money do we get?
 $500 to put towards the purchase of a snow blower.
 What if the snow blower costs more than $500?
$500 is to help you get started. The resident group is responsible for covering the rest of the cost of the snow blower. 
 What type of snow blower do we need to purchase?
The snow blower can be purchased from any authorized retailer and proof of purchase must be submitted to the City within 10 business days of purchase. The snow blower must meet the following specifications:
  • One or two-stage, gas engine ( a two-stage blower is recommended)
  • Minimum 179cc (200 cc is recommended)
  • Minimum 20” clearing width
  • Self-propelled
  • One year warranty
Steel auger is recommended
 Who gets the money?
The application form will ask you to identify a “Coordinator.” If your application is successful, funds of $500 will be provided in cheque in the name of the Coordinator.
 Who pays for the gas?
The resident group is responsible for coming up with a plan to purchase gas (for example, group members could rotate purchasing gas, or pick a point person to purchase gas and collect money from each member). 
 Who is responsible for repairs?
The resident group is responsible for ongoing maintenance and repairs (for example, split repair costs, or maybe you have a handy neighbour who can conduct maintenance). If maintained well snow blowers can last a long time. The snow blower will also have a warranty for the first one or two years.  
 Where do you store the snow blower?
The resident group is responsible for deciding where to store the snow blower (for example, an easily accessible shed or a shed in one of the member’s backyard you can access through a gate). 
 How do you schedule who gets to use the snow blower?
The resident group is responsible for deciding on when each person can use the snow blower and how often (meet as a group and come up with a plan). 

 Snow removal information

Sidewalks

Sidewalks are for everyone. Do your part to keep our community moving safely. The public is responsible for keeping sidewalks around their property free of snow and ice within 24 hours after a snowfall. Walking is one of the most common forms of travel for Kitchener residents. Snow and ice can make it hard to get around and create barriers for anyone with a walker, wheelchair, stroller or other mobility device. 

Proactive bylaw inspection
New for the 2018/2019 winter season, bylaw officers will be proactively inspecting sidewalks citywide. If a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice, a bylaw officer will issue a one-time notice to the property owner and return within 24 hours. If the sidewalk has still not been adequately cleared, the city will clear it and the property owner will be invoiced approximately $400.
Report unshovelled sidewalks
Call the Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345. When a complaint is received, staff will be send out to inspect the sidewalk. 
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 (nomination form currently expired as program is seasonal and will reopen in the winter).

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.

Who is responsible for snow removal at bus stops?
All inquiries should be directed to Grand River Transit at 519-585-7555.
Roads 
The City of Kitchener does its best to quickly clear the snow and ice to reduce hazards to motorists and pedestrians and acts as soon as a storm begins. To help with snow removal on city streets, please place garbage and recycling in the driveway area and NOT on the roadway on your collection day. Our snowplow drivers will thank you!
Snowplowing routes 
It takes 16-24 hours to complete all snowplowing routes after the snow has stopped falling. Other factors, such as temperature, future forecasts and precipitation, determine how and when plowing, salting or sanding should take place. Each snow plow is assigned a designated area of the city and priority for plowing is as follows:
  • Priority 1 = mains and arterials. All priority 1 and 2 routes and all bus routes are maintained until complete.
  • Priority 2 = hills, curves & GRT routes. Work on Priority 2 streets begins only after Priority 1 streets have been completed. If snow resumes while in Priority 1 or 2, then clearing Priority 1 roads is restarted.
  • Priority 3 = Balance of backstreets, i.e. Full plow. Work on Priority 3 routes starts only after priorities 1 and 2 have been completed. If snow resumes while in Priority 1 or 2, then clearing Priority 1 roads is restarted.

View the snow plow priorities map

Snow events 

A Snow Event is declared by the city when credible weather forecasts predict a significant snowfall and triggers the tag and tow bylaw which prohibits parking on city streets. Our operations roads crews aim to clear all streets within 24 hours when a Snow Event occurs. Keeping vehicles off the streets helps crews clear them, and keeps pedestrians and cars safe. 

  • Sign up to receive notices about Snow Events, which trigger the City of Kitchener's tag-and-tow parking bylaw. 
    Tag-and-tow bylaw

    From Dec. 1 – March 31 from 2:30-6 a.m. there is no overnight parking permitted on any city street, whether or not there is snow on the streets or snow plows are in operation. The tag-and-tow bylaw ensures cars are not parked on streets, which allows the city's operations crews to plow the streets safely and efficiently.

    During a Snow Event, the city's tag-and-tow bylaw takes effect. City of Kitchener's operations crews aim to clear all streets within 24 hours after the storm stops.

    Enforcement staff is asked to attend locations when a plow operator is unable to plow due to parked cars. Once enforcement staff assess the situation, they will ticket, and may tow, vehicles parked on the street so snow plow operators can continue their work.

    The ticket for parking on the street during a Snow Event is $80. Vehicles will not be tagged and towed based on calls from the public. Vehicles are towed at owners' expense.

    For more information on the city's tag-and-tow bylaw, please call 519-741-2345.

    How will residents know when a Snow Event is declared?
    The city's director of operations will declare a Snow Event at any time. Once a snow event is declared, the decision will be communicated in several ways:
    • this website;
    • on the City of Kitchener Facebook and Twitter accounts;
    • by email to residents who sign up to receive the city's snow-event advisories, and
    • by alerting local media.

    Notification of a Snow Event is typically given by 5 p.m., and usually takes effect at midnight so that residents have time to move or make arrangements for their cars. Please note: overnight parking is NOT permitted on any city street from Dec. 1 to March 31 each year.

    How will residents retrieve their towed vehicles?
    Vehicles are only towed if plow operators are unable to plow the street without moving them. Typically, vehicles are towed to a nearby street or parking lot to make it as easy as possible for drivers to retrieve their vehicles. Owners of the vehicles that have been towed can call 519-741-2345 to find out the location of their vehicles.
FAQ's
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. We apply salt to deice designated routes including hills, grades and intersections. If salt isn’t effective due to the weather we switch to sand.  
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.
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.
Special areas of the city 
The cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo often work together to ensure their services are efficient and their citizens are kept safe during the winter and the weather that comes with it. Each city approaches snow removal, including winter parking bylaws, in slightly different ways:
  • City of Cambridge

  • City of Waterloo

     Do you live on a border street?
    The cities of Kitchener and Waterloo share 20 roads, forming a seamless border for many residents. Both cities work together under a joint services program to make sure winter maintenance for these border streets is effective and efficient.

    The City of Waterloo maintains the following streets for Kitchener under its winter maintenance program:

    • Bridge Street West from city limit to Woolwich Street
    • Bridgeport Road East from city limit to Leander Place
    • Dodds Lane from city limit to Pine Street
    • Hartwood Avenue from city limit to Margaret Avenue
    • Hartwood Place
    • Herbert Street from city limit to Pine Street
    • Maple Hill Drive
    • Mary Street from city limit to Pine Street
    • Pine Street
    • Westmount Road West from city limit to Union Boulevard

    The City of Kitchener maintains the following streets for Waterloo under its winter maintenance program:

    • Aberdeen Road from city limit to Forsyth Drive
    • Avondale Avenue from city limit to John Street West
    • Belmont Avenue from city limit to John Street West
    • Dunbar Road from city limit to John Street West
    • Ellis Crescent South from city limit to Union Street East
    • Esson Street from city limit to John Street West
    • Fischer Hallman Road from Glasgow Street to University Avenue West
    • Graham Street
    • King Street South from city limit to Union Street East
    • Margaret Avenue from city limit to Union Street East
    • Moore Avenue South from city limit to Union Street East
    • Severn Street from city limit to John Street West
    • Union Street West from Union Boulevard to King Street South
    • Waterloo Street from city limit to Moore Avenue South
    • Weber Street South from city limit to Hartwood Avenue
    Downtown 
    The City of Kitchener works with the Downtown Kitchener BIA to keep streets clean and beautiful. The city looks after street and sidewalk sweeping, power washing and snow removal. The city also loads snow along streets in the downtown core and residential streets nearby. 
    Ward 5 Boulevard Program 
    From Dec. 1 to March 31 each year, in Ward 5 only, vehicles are permitted to park on the paved portion of a boulevard (ie. driveway ramp or apron). Certain conditions apply, and those not meeting the conditions may be ticketed and towed:
    • Vehicles must be on the paved driveway portion of the boulevard, not the landscaped (or hardscaped) portion;

    • Vehicles may not drive over the landscaped or hardscaped portions of the boulevard to get to the paved portion;

    • All of the vehicle's tires must be on the paved, hard surface boulevard driveway portion;

    • There can be no overhang of any part of the vehicle onto the sidewalk or roadway;

    • Boulevard parking is not permitted within 15 metres of an intersecting roadway;

    • Vehicles parked parallel to the road must be facing the direction of travel;

    • In the case of abutting driveways, vehicles must not overhang the projection of the property line.

    During a Snow Event, this program gives homeowners in Ward 5 a place to park their vehicle to allow snow plows easier access.

Salt use 
As part of our ongoing commitment to the environment, the City of Kitchener was the first area municipality to introduce a substantial anti-icing program as part of its routine approach to winter maintenance. Our "anti-icing" program reduces salt usage on winter roads. We apply liquid salt brine onto the roadway before a snow event to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement; this makes snow removal more efficient because less salt is required to return roads to bare pavement.

Through several initiatives under our salt management program, our winter maintenance contributes to a healthy environment for our residents.

Find out what you can do to be smart about salt on your property.

 Salt management program 
 The City of Kitchener has a salt management program that includes:
  • Our salting vehicles have computerized spreading controls to ensure that when salt is released it is consistent regardless of the speed of the vehicle.
  • All salters are equipped with pre wetting technology which sprays a salt brine directly on the rock  salt as it comes off the spinner. This technology alone represents a 25% reduction in salt use compared to applying dry rock salt as it reduces scatter and bounce, and helps to ensure salt stays where it is applied
  • We have invested in Epoke salters, which are better for the environment.
  • We have an advanced anti icing program for our priority 1 and priority 2 routes. When snow or ice is in the forecast, we pretreat the roads by applying salt brine. This practice reduces the amount of salt used when compared to applying salt after the snow falls.  
  • Our salt storage building allows us to load our trucks with salt inside which minimizes impacts to the environment.
  • Our staff are trained in salt management and ensure these practices are applied in their daily work. 

 

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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