We clear snow and ice from roads and sidewalks around city-owned facilities, walkways and parks. You are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around your property.

On this page:

  1. Sidewalk shovelling
  2. Help with shovelling
  3. Assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing
  4. Free sand for icy sidewalks
  5. Report snow or ice on sidewalks
  6. Overnight parking exemptions
  7. Parking bylaw enforcement
  8. Snow events
  9. Significant weather events
  10. Snow loading
  11. Snow plow routes
  12. City sidewalks, trails, paths and bike lanes

Sidewalk shovelling

Property owners must clear the sidewalks around their property of both snow and ice within 24 hours of a snowfall. These sidewalks must be maintained to bare pavement on an ongoing basis. This includes clearing snow and ice on the sidewalk that prevents safe pedestrian access to the road, often found at corner lots (called a windrow).

If a complaint is received and a bylaw officer determines your sidewalk is not clear, you will have another 24 hours to clear it to our bare pavement standard. After this point, we may hire a contractor to clear your sidewalk and add the cost of the clearing to your property tax bill.

City sidewalks, trails, paths and bike lanes

We remove snow from specific sidewalks, trails, paths and bike lanes in Kitchener.

Windrows

A windrow is the snow left on the side of the road by a plow. At corner lots, snow from the road is sometimes moved onto the sidewalk after a plow, which prevents safe pedestrian access to the road. Please clear these areas of snow. Let's work together to make sure everyone has safe access to sidewalks and crosswalks.

Streets on city borders

We share 20 roads with the City of Waterloo. Our joint services program with Waterloo ensures that winter maintenance for these streets is effective and efficient.


Help with shovelling

These agencies offer paid snow removal to seniors or anyone who cannot clear their sidewalks:

You can also contact your local high school to see if there are students who need volunteer hours and can help you through the winter.

You may also qualify for our assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing program.


Assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing

If you meet the criteria below, you may qualify for our assisted sidewalk and windrow clearing program:

  1. Must be 65 years-old or older.
    • OR
  2. Have a disability which prevents you from removing snow.
    • AND
  3. Must be a Kitchener resident.
  4. Reside in a single family, semi-detached or duplex dwelling unit and be owner or renter of such property.
  5. Have no person living in the same dwelling unit who is physically capable of removing snow.
  6. The total gross household income for all people living on the premises aged 18 or over must not exceed $46,000.
  7. Agree to a waiver of claims against the City with respect to any property or other damage which might arise out of the services being provided.

Applications for winter 2023/2024 are closed. We are now accepting applications for winter 2024/2025.

Apply online


Free sand for icy sidewalks

You can pick up free sand for use on sidewalks and walkways at sandboxes across the city. Please bring your own shovel and container to collect the sand.

Find free sand near you


Report snow or ice on sidewalks

You can report a sidewalk that has not been shovelled online or by phone at 519-741-2345. When we get a complaint, we send staff out to inspect the sidewalk.


Overnight parking exemptions

Without an exemption, you cannot park overnight on city streets between December 1 and March 31, even when there is no snow. We consider overnight to be the time between 2:30 and 6 a.m.

Visit our overnight parking exemptions page to request an exemption.


Parking bylaw enforcement

During a snow event, you cannot park on city streets. Bylaw officers actively enforce this bylaw to prevent unplowed streets. We will ticket and possibly tow cars so plows can continue their work.

The ticket for parking on a city street during a snow event is $80.

If your car has been towed, call 519-741-2345 for its location.


Snow events

When there is snowfall of 8 cm or more happening or in the forecast in the weather forecast, we will declare a snow event. When we declare a snow event, you cannot park on city streets and we may tag and tow your car.

We try our best to give as much notice as possible before the declaration comes into effect, giving you time to move your car if it’s parked on a city street.

If the weather meets the criteria for both a snow event and a significant weather event, we may declare both at the same time. This means that you will need to follow the guidelines and requirements of both declarations.

Declaring, extending or cancelling

If we declare a snow event, we will:

  • post on our Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts
  • send a page subscription email for this webpage (subscribe by clicking the green subscribe button on this page)
  • alert local media
  • update our Getting Around map to show the roads that have been recently serviced

If we extend or cancel a snow event, we will:

  • post on our Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts
  • send a page subscription email for this webpage (subscribe by clicking the green subscribe button on this page)

Significant weather events

We may declare a significant weather event when the weather forecast or actual weather conditions have the potential to pose a significant danger to residents travelling within or around the city.

This can include any of the following:

  • over 20 cm of snow accumulation expected or happening during a 24-hour period
  • over 20 cm of ice accretion from a freezing rain event lasting longer than 12 hours
  • sustained winds above 60 km/h

If we declare a significant weather event, you should:

  • limit unnecessary travel
  • use extra caution when travelling outdoors

A significant weather event does not include a street parking ban beyond any restrictions in the bylaw, so parking on city streets is still allowed unless a snow event is also active.

If the weather meets the criteria for both a significant weather event and snow event, we may declare both at the same time. This means you will need to follow the guidelines and requirements of both declarations.

Declaring, extending or cancelling

If we declare a significant weather event, we will:

  • post on our Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts
  • send a page subscription email for this webpage (subscribe by clicking the green subscribe button on this page)
  • alert local media

If we extend or cancel a snow event, we will:

  • post on our Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts
  • send a page subscription email for this webpage (subscribe by clicking the green subscribe button on this page)

Snow loading

When there is significant snow accumulation from plowing roads, bike lanes and ION tracks, city crews pull snow out from the edge of the road and boulevards onto the road and load it into dump trucks. Then, they move the snow to our snow storage and disposal facility.

While snow loading is happening near you, you may hear large machinery and see flashing lights.


Snow plow routes

It takes between 16 and 24 hours to plow all routes after the snow has stopped falling. We assign each snow plow a specific route of the city and priority for plowing.

Other factors, such as temperatures, future forecasts and precipitation, determine how and when plowing, salting or sanding should take place.

View our snow plow priorities map

Priority 1

Main roads and major arteries. All priority 1 routes and all GRT bus routes are maintained until complete.

Priority 2

Hills, curves and GRT bus 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, completing a full plow of the city. 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.


City sidewalks, trails, paths and bike lanes

City sidewalks

We remove snow and ice from specific sidewalks and walkways around the city, including:

  • sidewalks that surround city-owned property, such as community centres
  • sidewalks within the downtown core, in connection with the Downtown Kitchener BIA
  • ‘back lot’ sidewalks: sidewalks that run along the back fence of properties that owners do not have to maintain under the bylaw
  • walkways between neighbourhoods
  • crossing guard locations
  • some crosswalks

We do not remove snow or ice from sidewalks not listed above.

Trails and paths

We do not remove snow from trails or parking lots that do not have a concrete or asphalt surface. This is to avoid damage. Applying salt can harm these areas.

Multi-use trails

Multi-use trails are our network of trails, some of which run along city streets. Many run through our parks and open spaces. These hard-surface trails offer year-round use for pedestrians and cyclists. We maintain many trails during the winter, but not all.

Multi-use paths

Multi-use paths connect pedestrians to the regional road network, providing an asphalt surface for pedestrians, cyclists and more. We maintain these pathways during the winter in partnership with the Region of Waterloo. The region is responsible for repairs, brush cutting and grass cutting.

Bike lanes

We clear all bike lanes within 24 hours after a snowfall.