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Snow Removal Q & A

The City Operations Department works hard to maintain the roads and sidewalks during snowfall events.  Here are some frequently asked questions that you may not be aware of:

How much plowing and snow removal is required?

Winter maintenance crews are responsible for plowing, sanding, salting and clearing 650 lane/kilometers of roadways in the City along with 150 km’s of sidewalk.

Which Streets are the first to be plowed?

The City is divided into three (3) priority routes. Each route is made up of streets categorized as either priority streets or other streets, with priority streets cleared first.

Priority roads are arterial roads that carry the highest volumes of traffic. These roads are used to access business areas and the hospital and are also used to get in and out of Kenora. Bus routes are also considered priority roads. Other roads are primarily residential or secondary routes. These are systematically plowed after the priority routes have been completed.

To find out when your street will be plowed after a snow storm, search on the Snow Plow Priority Map.

Why does it seem to take a long time for other streets to be cleaned?

Each scenario is different. Some snowstorms last many hours or have initial freezing rain that turns into snow. In each situation, it is evaluated and then determined if a re-plowing of priority streets may be required to maintain traffic safety. Re-plowing may occur before road crews can move on to other local streets.

Why are cul-de-sac streets cleared last?

Due to varied shapes, sizes and presence of centre islands, cul-de-sacs require specialized snow removal equipment and procedures. The City understands the frustration that can occur for affected residents. We continually review the snow removal process in an effort to be more efficient and reduce delays that occur in clearing snow in cul-de-sac areas.

What do I do if my street was missed?

Although crews are very conscientious in following route schedules, sometimes streets may be missed.  First check the Snow Plow Priority Map to see where you street is listed in terms of priority.  Remember after a snow storm stops, it may take crews up to 24 hours to finish plowing all City streets and access roads.  Please report any oversights by contact the City of Kenora’s Customer Service Centre at 807-467-2000. The crew will be notified and arrangements made to have the street cleared as soon as possible.

Who determines the street clearing schedule?

Weather conditions determine how quickly the streets can be cleared. Snow clearing schedules may change due to winter weather system. Everyone’s safety is considered when storms hit. Staff must assess several variables and quality standards for clearing snow when determining schedules.

How long does snow clearance usually take?

Most routes are completed within a 48 hour period. Clearance time may be longer when snowfall is exceptionally heavy, there are complications due to cars parked on the street, or crews are working during peak traffic times. In accordance with City Policy, drivers cannot work for more than 13 hours without a rest period. This can impact snow clearance time.

When are salt and sand used?

The mixture used on the City streets is 95% sand and 5% salt. Spreading rates are electronically controlled by operator in truck.

The City of Kenora uses modern technology in the application of this material and keeps up-to-date on new developments. Our goal is to be proactive in reducing the amount of salt while recognizing that the safety of City streets during slippery conditions cannot be jeopardized.

What happens during a routine snowfall?

Depending on when snow stops and snow volume, a scenario at night would occur as follows:

  1. Street plows leave the works yard when required and clear priority streets.
  2. Next, plows head to local streets.
  3. Sidewalk snow plows follow the same route system as the street plows.

When this schedule example applies, driving is fairly normal on City priority streets for the morning rush hour and on many local streets.

What happens during other snowfall situations?

Daytime snowfalls, snowstorms and windy conditions pose unique challenges. In some situations, we may have to plow streets during day and rush hour periods. Priority streets may be plowed more than once before we can get to local streets. There are times during a lengthy snowstorm when we must pull crews off the streets to allow them the required rest period. These situations are frustrating, but only occur a few times during most winter seasons.

Why are some streets left with more snow than others?

The sand/salt mixture applied to the streets combined with high traffic volume produces bare pavement quickly. Streets that receive less vehicular traffic are more likely to retain some snow covering.

Who removes snow from sidewalks?

The City clears sidewalks on arterial and collector roads and certain local roads near schools first. The City provides sidewalk snow removal when the snow accumulated on the sidewalk surface is 80 millimeters. If the amount of snow is great enough that plowing is not effective on sidewalks, crews use blower attachments to remove the snow. This method takes longer and is more expensive

How do plows get around moving and parked cars?

Care and experience are necessary to safely manouvre plow blades through traffic and around parked vehicles. Snow removal efficiency is at a maximum when streets have little or no traffic and are clear of parked cars. This explains why snow removal is mainly done in the evening and overnight. With reduced traffic volumes and a bylaw that restricts parking on City streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., plow operators can work on getting priority streets ready for morning rush hour.  Snow banks are removed when they reach 0.6 meters or 2 feet in the downtown core and 1.2 meters or 4 feet in residential areas.  Following completion of priority streets, work crews tackle other streets throughout the morning.

Reminder to all motorists:
Parking bylaw in effect:

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.

Why do plows push snow into driveways?

Snow must be plowed to the side of the street during clearing. The City understands that this unavoidable situation can be frustrating.

To ensure adequate road width, crews must plow as close to the curb as possible. Crews may also need to pass over a street more than once during a snowfall. During quick thaw situations, multiple passing ensures proper water drainage and helps us avoid heavy road flooding. At other times, snow is pushed back to prevent hardened snow that becomes impossible to move later.

Who clears snow from bus stops and mail boxes?

The City of Kenora provides snow clearing service at bus stops. If you have concerns with mail boxes, please contact Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177.

What locations are not part of the City’s snow clearance services?

The following locations are not part of the City’s snow removal services:

  • Unpaved park walkways and paths: some walkways have signs indicating that they are not maintained in the winter and suggesting use of alternative routes
  • Some new subdivision streets and sidewalks: The subdivision developer takes responsibility for winter maintenance and should be contacted directly regarding services issues
  • Private walks, driveways and roads: These areas are the responsibility of the property owner. Owners of townhouse complexes, plazas and other private areas must keep any internal roads clear of snow and ice.

We anticipate that these will answer a few of the questions you might have about snow removal in the City of Kenora. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this very busy snow season.