How much ploughing and snow removal is required?
The winter maintenance crews are responsible for clearing:
- 250 km of roads for sand/salting operations
- 500 km of roads for ploughing operations
The winter maintenance crews are primarily responsible for ploughing and sanding/salting the roads and they use various types of equipment to get the job done. The fleet includes Town owned and contracted equipment that is made up of 11 ploughs complete with sand/salt units and 9 sidewalk ploughs.
Does it help to know when a storm is coming?
Yes, knowing when a winter storm is on the way and having a good idea of what type of precipitation is expected helps us prepare for the job ahead. The Operation's staff receive detailed weather forecasts 4 – 5 times in a 24 hour period. In a storm advisory situation, the forecasts are updated more often and the staff also monitor radar images of the Newmarket area posted on the Environment Canada website.
What streets get ploughed first?
The Town is divided into 11 areas or "routes." Each route is made up of streets categorized as "priority" and "other." Streets designated as "priority" streets are cleared first, then crews take care of the remainder of the streets.
Priority roads carry the higher volumes of traffic and are most easily identified as main (arterial) roads or secondary collector roads. These are the roads people use to get to business areas, the hospital and in and out of town. Bus routes are also considered in the first round of snow removal. The "other" roads are primarily residential or secondary routes and these are systematically ploughed after the "priority" routes are completed.
Sometimes it seems to take longer to get to the "other" streets, why is this?
On occasion snowstorms last for a number of hours or the initial freezing rain turns to snow. A lengthy snowfall or a variety of precipitation conditions can sometime require a re-ploughing of the priority streets in order to keep them safe for traffic before road crews can go on to the "other" local streets.
I live on a cul-de-sac and our street always seems to be the last one cleared, why is that?
Because of their shape, varying size and even centre islands, cul-de-sacs/wide elbows require specialized equipment and procedures for snow removal. Most cul-de-sacs/wide elbows are serviced on a single shift, after the "priority" and "other" roads are ploughed. The Town's road system contains over 250 cul-de-sacs and 125 wide elbows with more added each year.
We understand this can be frustrating for those who are affected and staff do utilize boulevards for snow storage purposes. The Town is continually reviewing the snow removal process in an effort to be more efficient and reduce/eliminate the delays that occur in clearing snow in cul-de-sac/wide elbow areas.
What if my street is missed?
Although the crews are very conscientious in following the "route" schedule, occasionally a street may be missed. If this happens, please report the oversight by calling Customer Service at 905-895-5193. The crew will be notified and arrangements made to have the street cleared as soon as possible.
Who determines the schedule for clearing streets?
Weather is the overall factor that determines how quickly the streets can be cleared. Snow clearing schedules may change within minutes due to winter weather system and temperature variances. It is also important to remember that the safety of everyone is considered when storms hit. In determining schedules, Operations staff must assess several variables as well as the quality standards for clearing snow.
How long does it usually take to clear the snow?
Most routes are completed in a 12 hour period. If the snowfall is exceptionally heavy or is complicated by freezing rain or a lot of cars parked on the road, or requires crews to work in peak traffic times, the clearance time can be longer. Another factor affecting snow clearance turnaround is the Ministry of Labour regulation that prohibits drivers from working more than 13 hours without a rest period.
What equipment is used and when is it sent out?
Most often sanding/salting vehicles are used to control winter road conditions. It is important to prevent the snow or ice from bonding with the road surface; therefore, sand/salt equip vehicles are on the main streets on a regular basis during inclement weather.
When the snow or slush reaches 6 cm (2 inches) then ploughs are used to clear snow off of the roads. Main routes are cleared first in order to support emergency vehicles and buses. Our goal is to maintain major routes as bare as possible (i.e., down to the hard pavement). Sand/salt is spread on the road after ploughing.
How do the ploughs get around cars?
It requires care and experience to safely manoeuvre plough blades through traffic and around parked vehicles while also keeping on a schedule. Snow removal efficiency is maximum when streets have little or no traffic and are clear of parked cars. This is why much of the snow removal work is done in the evening and overnight. With the reduced traffic volumes plus a by-law that restricts parking on Town streets between 2 and 6 am, plough operators can work on getting the priority streets ready for the morning rush hour. Following the completion of the priority streets, work crews then tackle the other streets through the morning. Ploughs will not be sent back to plough areas where cars were previously parked, so please do not park on the roadway.
Parking bylaw – Residents are reminded that it is strictly prohibited to park a vehicle on any roadway: in front of, or within two feet of a driveway or laneway; - for more than three consecutive hours except between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.: – that interferes with the clearing of snow: between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. from November 1 to April 15.
When is salt and sand used?
This year, the Town of Newmarket will be using 100 per cent salt (Thawrox) during winter maintenance, as a one-year pilot project for winter road maintenance. A salt and sand mix will be used for sidewalks.
The Town of Newmarket uses modern technology in the application of this material and keeps up-to-date on new developments. Salt reducing measures are implemented as appropriate to Newmarket's needs. As well, Operations staff examine information on alternative de-icing and anti-icing technologies. Our goal is to be proactive in this area recognizing that the safety of town streets during slippery conditions must not be jeopardized by the use of alternative products.
What happens during a routine snowfall?
Depending on when it stops snowing and how much snow fell, a nighttime scenario would go like this:
- Street ploughs leave the works yard when required and clear the "priority" streets.
- Next, the ploughs head to local streets.
- Sidewalk snow ploughs start at approx. 4 am and follow the same system as the street ploughs.
- Later in the day or next day, other equipment arrives to clear snow from the remaining cul-de-sacs.
When this schedule example applies, driving on Town priority streets for the morning rush hour and many local streets is fairly normal.
What happens during other snowfall situations?
Daytime snowfalls or snowstorms and windy conditions pose challenges that push the Town out of routine operation. For example, we may have to plough during the day including rush hour periods. It may also be necessary to plough priority streets more than once before getting to local streets. As well, there are times during a lengthy snowstorm when we have to pull crews off the streets to give them the required rest period before starting up again. These situations are frustrating, but in most winter seasons this does not occur often.
Why are some streets down to bare pavement and others are not?
The salt/sand applied to streets, combined with the heavy traffic they receive, as well as temperature, will produce bare pavement very quickly. Streets that have less traffic are more likely to have some snow covering. However, you will often see bare pavement where local streets border a Regional road. This is generally due to salt/sand being spread by cars coming from the priority street.
Why do ploughs push snow into driveways?
This can be annoying but, unfortunately, it can't be helped. To clear the street snow must be ploughed to the side. We have to plough as close to the curb as possible in order to widen the road curb to curb. We may pass two to three times. This assists during quick thaws where water is able to drain to catch basins avoiding heavy flooding of roads. If the snow is not pushed back, it hardens and is impossible to move later.
What happens if a Town plough damages my lawn?
Damage does occur from time to time. Snow plough operators face many challenges including limited lighting, poor visibility, pedestrians, parked cars and slippery conditions. Sometimes one or more of these factors could cause tearing of lawn areas on the Town property that fronts private property.
If your lawn is damaged by a sidewalk/street plough please contact Customer Service at 905-895-5193. A staff member will take your name and address for spring restoration work. The deadline for this will be June 15 every year. Repairs are undertaken on a "route" basis using topsoil and sod. The repair process starts in mid-April and may last until late June. The lawn repair schedule varies depending on the severity of the winter and other weather-related damage that may have occurred, such as watermain breaks.
What happens if the plough damages anything else?
If the plough damages a driveway curb stop, please call 905-895-5193. Sidewalk snow ploughs are used on the boulevard portion of residential and business properties. This area is Town owned (public property) and under by-law must not have any private items on it such as fences, posts, ornaments or plantings. The Town does not pay for any damages other than the repair of lawns.
Who removes snow from sidewalks?
The Town clears sidewalks on arterial, primary and minor collector roads, and certain local roads where schools and Town parks/facilities exist. The Town provides sidewalk snow removal – Priority #1 – when the maximum new fallen or wind blown snow accumulated on the sidewalk surface is 50mm (2 inches) in any one area. Sidewalks maintained by the Municipality does not relieve property owners of their duty/responsibility to remove snow fronting their property as per Bylaw-1996-38. Unless an exception is granted, the policy applies to assumed roads only. For subdivisions that are not assumed, the property owner(s) is responsible to maintain the sidewalk fronting their property. When the amount of snow is so great that ploughing is no longer effective, blower attachments are used. This method takes longer and costs more.
Sidewalks on local roads are not generally maintained by the Municipality during the winter. As per Bylaw #1996-38 "The occupant of every parcel of land or premises which front or abuts any highway upon which there is a sidewalk, or in case there is no occupant, the owner or person or persons having control of such land or premises, shall, within twenty four hours after any fall of snow, rain or hail shall have ceased, remove or cause to be removed from the portion of the sidewalk opposite such land or premises snow and ice resulting from such fall of snow, rain or hail such that such sidewalk is in a safe, passable condition."
In order to provide the best winter sidewalk maintenance possible, please do not park over the sidewalk. It is a violation of the Town of Newmarket Parking Bylaw #1993-62 which states: "No person shall stop a vehicle on or over any sidewalk or footpath". The charge for this is $35.00.
Does the Town clear walkways?
The Town clears snow from paved/concrete walkways that go from street to street and into parks and facilities as per Town policy. Walkways are Priority #2 and are cleared of snow immediately upon satisfactory completion of sidewalks as noted in Priority #1.
Who clears snow from bus stops?
The Region of York provides transit and snow clearing service at bus stops. For any concerns, please contact York Region Transit at 1-866-668-3978. Snow removal around Canada Post mail boxes is the responsibility of Canada Post 1-800-267-1177 or http://www.canadapost.ca./
What if I am unable to clear the snow from my property because of age or disability?
If seniors or individuals with disabilities wish to pay for snow removal assistance, the Town of Newmarket Corporate Services Department (905-895-5193) can assist by providing telephone numbers for snow removal and referral services. CHATS (905-898-3593 or 1-877-452-4287) is a program operated by Home Support Services for York Region that is available to assist seniors/disabled with snow removal. See CHATS & others for more services.
What locations are not part of the Town's snow clearance services?
The following locations are not part of the Town's snow removal services:
- Unpaved park walkways and paths. Some walkways are posted with signs indicating they are not maintained in the winter and alternative routes should be found.
- Private walks, driveways and roads. These areas are the responsibility of the individual, business or corporation owning the property. For example, the owner of a townhouse complex must keep any internal roads clear of snow and ice.
What should I do?
Property owners are responsible for clearing snow from their walkways and driveways and it makes good sense to keep these areas and steps free of ice. No one wants a family member or visitor to slip and fall and the postal carrier, meter reader and other service personnel will thank you for providing a safe path to your door. Under the highway traffic act property owners are not allowed to deposit snow on the travelled portion of the roadway.
Other points of snow etiquette and safety to keep in mind are:
- Be a good neighbour. Lend a hand to those who may not be physically able to shovel or who may find walking to the store or bus stop too treacherous because of the snow or ice.
- Keep your children safe - don't let them play in the snow piles or on the snowbanks at the side of the road.
- When clearing snow pile it on your property - it should not be shovelled onto the sidewalk or street.
- Place your garbage containers and blue box on a cleared area - do not perch them on the top of snow piles.
- Help prevent street flooding and icing by clearing snow away from storm sewer catch basins. When the weather turns warmer and snow begins to melt it's important that the runoff water gets into the storm sewer. If the catch basin is fully or partially covered by a build-up of snow and ice street flooding can occur. Should the thermometer dip again the street can become an ice rink.
- For everyone's safety, property owners with fire hydrants fronting or abutting their property are requested to assist by keeping them visible and clear of snow
The snow plough ran over my blue box
If the snowplough runs over a blue box, please bring the broken one into a Town facility and it will be replaced, free of charge.
Fixed Objects within Municipal Road Allowance
Property Owners are reminded that no objects or obstructions shall be placed within the Municipal road allowance. This includes items such as; plantings, rocks, signs, curbs, landscaping features, etc. These items are subject to removal at any time by the Town and the property owner may also be charged with the cost of repair to Town equipment if any snow removal equipment is damaged as a result of these objects/obstructions.
Snow windrows (the piles of snow left at the side of the road) are an unfortunate consequence of ploughing snow and cannot be avoided. Removal of these windrows is the responsibility of the property owner and may occur several times throughout a snow event.