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November 20, 2012
City of Toronto getting ready for winter season
Toronto received a break from mother nature last winter but the City of Toronto has not let down its guard as it gets ready to tackle snow and ice this winter.

Winter is also high season for watermain breaks. Cold weather and rapid swings between periods of thaw and freezing put pipes under stress. Crews are ready to respond to minor and severe breaks 24/7.

“We didn’t have as severe a winter last time around, but we are prepared for whatever comes our way this season," said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East), Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. "We have a fleet of 600 snow plows, 300 sidewalk plows and 200 salt trucks that will keep the roads and sidewalks clear and safe again this year.

“Our number one priority is to keep the main roads clear for emergency and TTC vehicles," added Councillor Minnan-Wong. "After that, we'll move on to the local roads and we generally complete these roads between 14 and 16 hours after the storm ends."

As soon as the snow begins, Transportation Services sends out its salt trucks to the expressways and the main roads. After that, the salt trucks move to the local roads. If the City receives 2.5 centimetres of snow, the plows are sent to the expressways. When the snow reaches five centimetres, the plows go to the main roads and plowing continues for the duration of the storm.

When the snow stops and if the snow accumulation reaches eight centimetres, plows will be sent to the local roads.

The City will clear snow from sidewalks on local roads where it is mechanically possible to do so after eight centimetres (five centimetres in January and February) of snow has fallen. In the central core of the city, property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow 12 hours after a storm has taken place.

More information about sidewalk snow clearing in Toronto, including a map of where the service takes place, is available at

The City of Toronto’s levels of service for snow clearing meet those set by the Province of Ontario for municipalities and road authorities. These levels of service were adopted by Toronto City Council in 2009.

The public can help the City’s efforts in clearing snow by doing a few simple things such as not pushing snow back onto the road after clearing snow from their sidewalks and driveways, avoiding parking on city streets to help the plows do their work, and taking public transit whenever possible. The public is also reminded to clear snow from around hydrants after a snowfall.

In 2012/13, the City will again concentrate on an improved level of service for sidewalk snow clearing. That includes increasing service on main streets with high pedestrian volumes and frequent transit stops, streamlining the service so that it follows closely behind roadway plowing, and enhancing service to prevent ice build-up on sidewalks in prolonged cold periods.

Transportation Services continues to reduce salt use as part of its Salt Management Plan. The City of Toronto has improved its fleet of salt spreading trucks, provided better training for staff who operate salt trucks, as well as improving salt storage and handling techniques.

Residents who have questions about snow clearing efforts or watermain breaks in their area can call the City at 311. Anyone who spots a watermain break is also encouraged to call 311.
Besides snow and cold weather, there are numerous causes of watermain breaks and the City of Toronto is taking steps to address the ongoing problem, currently spending $86 million to improve the watermain distribution system.

Toronto Water is dealing with aging infrastructure and through the capital infrastructure renewal program, approximately 50 to 60 kilometres of watermain pipes are being replaced annually. In addition, three rehabilitation programs continue: cathodic protection of watermain pipes, cleaning and cement mortar lining, and structural lining.

Response crews are available 24/7 to locate, assess and repair watermain breaks in order to restore service as quickly as possible.

More information about watermain breaks can be viewed in a brief video at

More details about the City of Toronto’s overall winter operations are available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact
Snow clearing - Steve Johnston
Senior Communications Coordinator

Watermain breaks - Andrea Gonsalves
Senior Communications Coordinator



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