The City's Winter Control consists of clearing and removing the snow from roads and designated sidewalks around the City.

New for the 2019/2020 Winter Season

The City has launched a new Interactive Winter Operations Map which will allow residents to track the City’s snow clearing process during a winter event.

In an effort to strengthen our communications, we are utilizing GPS technology to track the status of salting and clearing operations for roads, sidewalks, multi-use trails, multi-use paths, parking lots, fire halls, steps and other manual clearing areas.

View the Interactive Winter Operations Map.

Please submit a Customer Care feedback form to share your comments and feedback on the new tool!

On October 21, 2019 Pickering Council approved additional sections of the Waterfront Trail to be salted and plowed over the winter months. View Report CS 33-19 for more information. 

Winter Reminders

On-Street Parking

From December 1st to March 31st parking is prohibited on all streets between 2 am and 5 am, and during any winter control operations in accordance with Traffic & Parking By-law 6604/05. Vehicles parked on the road during snow clearing operations are subject to being ticketed and/or towed (at the owner's expense). 

During snow clearing operations, it is important that snow windrows are pushed back as far against the curb as possible to maintain at least a 5 metre width on all roads. Parked cars not only slow operations, but generate a lot of cleanup after the snow has stopped, as the remaining windrow after the car has moved needs to be addressed.

Windrows

It is the resident's responsibility to clear the snow left by the plow at the end of their driveway (known as a windrow). Residents are required to shovel the snow from the windrow onto their boulevards and not back onto the road. Property owners could be subject to a fine under the Ice and Snow Clearing By-law 6650/06 for placing snow on the road or sidewalk.

Operators do their best to minimize windrows and we understand how frustrating this can be for our residents who have just cleared their driveway, but unfortunately it is unavoidable and we appreciate your understanding. By using the Interactive Winter Operations Map, you will see when the roads have been plowed to start clearing your driveway.

Bus Shelters and Super Mailboxes

Bus shelters are cleared by a contractor on behalf of Durham Region Transit. Issues relating to the clearing of bus shelters can be reported through the Customer Comment Form on the Durham Region Transit website.

Snow removal operations on the roadside and boulevard surrounding super mailboxes are completed by Canada Post. A service request for snow clearance can be submitted through their website.

Sidewalks

In accordance with Ice and Snow Clearing By-law 6650/06, as amended, property owners are required to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall.

To assist City staff clearing sidewalks, please do not park your vehicle over the sidewalk as it impedes our sidewalk clearing machines and is dangerous for all users. In addition, the stopping of a vehicle over a sidewalk is prohibited under the Traffic and Parking By-law and vehicles found in contravention could be subjected to a fine.

The City salts and plows sidewalks in the following locations:

  • on regional roads
  • fronting municipal parks or property such as City Hall and Fire Halls
  • on walkways between roads and leading into schools
  • on bridge overpasses
  • on highly populated routes to schools
  • on steps within the road allowance, if they are not closed and signed accordingly

Parks

Most municipal parks, with the exception of some parking lots, are not maintained in the winter, so paths and walkways running throughout are not cleared or salted. Signs are posted accordingly advising users.

Roads

Pickering is divided into 11 urban routes and 2 rural routes, clearing each within a Priority Routing System. Priority Routes are identified as Collector (Main) roads and carry higher volumes of traffic. These are the roads people use to get to business areas, hospitals and in and out of the city. Bus routes are also considered priority routes. The "local" roads are primarily residential and these are systematically plowed after the Priority Routes are completed. New for the Seaton Community are “Mews” or Laneways which require specialized vehicles to clear snow due to their narrow width.

Order of Operations

As a general rule, depending on the severity of the storm:

  • the south urban area can expect complete service (salting and plowing) within 12 to 18 hours
  • the north rural area can expect complete service (salting or sanding and plowing) within 24 hours

If snowfall is exceptionally heavy, complicated by freezing rain or requires crews to work in peak traffic times, the operation times can be longer. For the 2019/2020 season, you may see salt trucks out at their “Loaded Standby position” during the AM or PM rush hours, if inclement weather is predicted to start during those periods. 

Another factor affecting snow clearance turnaround is the Ministry of Transportation Hours of Service regulation that prohibits drivers from driving more than 13 hours without a rest period. This requirement is strictly enforced.

Road Snow Clearing Process

  • when snow is forecasted within the next 48 hours, an application of MgCl (magnesium chloride) is applied to select Main roads to prevent snow & ice bonding to the pavement hampering further snow & ice control operations
  • salt trucks are dispatched for paved roads only, once roads have become snow covered and snow “sticks” to the pavement
  • each salt route takes approximately 4 - 6 hours to complete
  • City staff determine whether to plow (usually 75mm / 3" of snowfall or more)
  • each snow plow route takes approximately 8 - 12 hours to complete
  • the rural gravel roads are monitored and plowed as necessary
  • if warranted, the rural gravel roads are then sanded
  • clean up operations take place up to 48 hours following the end of a snow event

Winter Control Maps

Did you know...

  • gravel roads are sanded for traction, since applying salt would draw out the frost, weakening the road and creating soft spots and pot holes
  • salt is most effective when the road temperature ranges between 0o to -10o
  • salt plays no role in the formation of potholes on asphalt roads

Snow Safety Tips & Etiquette

  • be a good neighbour - lend a hand to those who may not be physically able to shovel
  • keep your children safe - don't let them play in the snow piles or on the snow banks at the side of the road
  • when clearing snow, pile it on your property - do not throw it back onto the sidewalk or street
  • Residential Collection - Winterplace your garbage containers, green bin, and blue boxes on a cleared area at the bottom of your driveway and not on the roadway or sidewalk - do not place them on the top of snow piles. For more information, contact Durham Region Waste Management.
  • help prevent street flooding and icing by clearing snow away from storm sewer catchbasins. When the weather turns warmer and snow begins to melt, it is important that the run off water gets into the storm sewer. If the catch basin is fully or even partially obstructed by a build-up of snow and ice, street flooding can occur. Should the temperature drop again after the flooding, the street can become icy.

Things you can do to help

  1. When you shovel your driveway, place the snow on the "downstream" (right side) of your driveway, this will help reduce the size of the windrow left on your driveway the next time the plow comes by.
  2. Observe and comply with ice and snow by-laws.
  3. Don't park overnight on any City street.
  4. Don't push snow from a driveway or parking lot onto a City street or sidewalk.
  5. Don't park your vehicle at the end of your driveway in a way that would impede City plows.
  6. Try to keep the catch basin adjacent to your property free from ice and snow to help prevent localized flooding.
  7. Don't place garbage or garbage containers where they can be buried, damaged or interfere with snow removal.
  8. Avoid installing mailboxes where they can be damaged by plowing operations. Canada Post can provide guidelines concerning the proper distances mailboxes should be placed from road surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the snow plow leave such a pile of snow across my driveway after I've just shovelled it out?
The trucks salt first and then plow, which usually means that many residents have already shovelled their driveway by the time the plow comes by. The plows are designed to remove snow from the road and deposit it on the boulevard. Driveways form part of the boulevard. Pickering doesn't have the resources to remove the snow from driveways. We appreciate that this can be frustrating, however, we ask your cooperation in clearing the snow without placing it on the roadway, as this is dangerous and in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act and the City's Ice and Snow Clearing By-law. When you shovel your driveway, place the snow "downstream" (right side) so your driveway won't be filled in the next time the plow comes by.

Why does the City salt first, and then plow?
Salt is applied to the road surface after the snow has accumulated. The reaction of salt with the moisture in the snow creates a "brine" solution, breaking the bond between snow and road. City trucks plow later, removing the "slushy" snow, which results in better traction. The plow blade has "shoes" that ride slightly above the road surface, therefore the salt is not entirely plowed off the road.

When will my street be plowed?
Where your street lies in relation to where the plow starts, determines the time it takes to get there. Please see Order of Operations and the Interactive Winter Operations Map for more information.

I've shovelled my driveway, and a day or two later the plow truck has filled it back in - why?
In a major snowstorm the trucks do not initially perform a full road width plowing. This is the most efficient and effective way to get the city moving. Crews return a day or two later to perform "clean-up operations". This completely opens the street for maximum efficiency, moves remaining snow onto boulevards, clears catch basins for potential water runoff, allows on street parking, and creates storage space for the next storm.

Is salt dangerous to the environment?
Environment Canada will not ban the use of road salt as it is not harmful to humans, but has declared it as CEPA* Toxic (i.e. toxic to the environment). Road authorities take action by improving their own management of road salt, by metering salt distribution and pre-wetting to reduce the environmental effects. We report our salt usage on an annual basis and continually review our winter control operations and evaluate new technologies and processes, to reduce the amount of road salt required in managing snow and ice.
*Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

I am a senior, what services can the City of Pickering provide to me for snow removal?
The City of Pickering offers a Seniors & Persons with Disabilities Snow Clearing Program. Visit our Snow Clearing Program page for more information.

I live on a corner lot, why do I end up with an excessive amount of snow at the bottom of my driveway?
Due to accumulation on the side street, with no intercepting driveways, the snow gets released at the first driveway the plow reaches. We appreciate that this can be frustrating and we appreciate your cooperation in a snow emergency. 

I live on a court. When will the pile of snow in the centre of the court be removed?
The snow piles in the centre of courts are removed by front-end loaders. This will be done as soon as possible after the snow removal as part of the "clean-up operations".

Why doesn't the plow do a better job clearing the centre of a cul-de-sac?
It is very difficult for our larger plow units to manoeuvre in the centre of a cul-de-sac to clear all the snow. We will use smaller plows or front-end loaders, depending on availability, if a significant amount of snow accumulates.

What if a City plow damages my...

  • Sod: Contact our Customer Care Centre and we will come out to inspect the area. We will make any repairs deemed necessary once sod becomes available in Spring.
  • Driveway or Curbs: The City owns the boulevard area and will use asphalt to repair any damage caused by City plows. The City will not restore driveway boulevards that are damaged during winter control operations, finished with interlocking brick, patterned concrete or concrete/wood curbs. Please contact our Customer Care Centre to arrange an inspection.
  • Mailbox: In rural areas, if your mailbox is damaged or knocked down by our plows, we may replace a mailbox with a standard rural mailbox.

My garbage and recycling bins are constantly buried by the plow. What can I do about this?
We suggest that during the winter season, residents place their bags and bins far enough back on the driveway to avoid being buried and not on sidewalks.

Why was my street missed?
Severe weather conditions, mandatory working regulations, too many vehicles parked on the street, and other factors may delay our ability to clear all City roads and sidewalks of snow and ice. Even when all of our equipment is at work, heavy or drifting snow may re-cover streets and sidewalks before repeat clearing is possible. We ask that you give us time to manage the snowstorm.

  • New for the 2019/2020 Winter Season, we will undertake an Exception Report and clear any street or sidewalk that has been inadvertently missed prior to declaring an end of the snow event.
  • Contact our Customer Care Centre if you feel that our crews have missed your street or sidewalk, only after the work has been substantially completed.
  • Some newly built roads such as in the Seaton Community may not receive winter control services by the City of Pickering. Please check the Interactive Winter Operations Map to see if your street is included in the City of Pickering Winter Control Program or is being maintained by the developer/builder.

What are my responsibilities?
Property owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from their walkways, driveways, ramps, loading docks, parking areas, as well as outdoor stairs and landings in accordance with the Property Standards By-law 5943/02 and the Ice and Snow Clearing By-law 6650/06. Family members, visitors, and other service personnel will thank you for providing a safe path to your door.

Regional Roads

The Region of Durham is responsible for snow and ice control on Regional Roads such as Kingston Road, Bayly Street, etc. Visit the Region of Durham website for information on their winter control operations.

Highways

The Province of Ontario is responsible for winter control on highways. Visit ontario.ca/511 to check weather and road conditions, register for updates about road closures, and Track My Plow to track the progress of snowplows and winter maintenance vehicles.

Federal Lands

Transport Canada, through its on-site property agent BGIS, is responsible for winter maintenance on some roads located within the City of Pickering. Those roads are identified on our Rural salting and sanding maps. If you have any concerns, please contact the National Service Call Centre at 1.888.526.5673.