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London’s First Snow Event: What You Need to Know


With snow in the forecast for Friday morning, the City of London is monitoring conditions closely and preparing for the squalls.

“Our crew has one mission: to keep our streets safe and our city moving,” says Mayor Ed Holder. “Winter can be a challenge, but by working together, exercising patience and respecting everyone using our streets, we can make winter in London a little less stressful for us all.”

The City of London takes care of maintaining 3,625 kms of roadway; 1,500 kms of sidewalk; 720 cul-de-sacs; and 2,100 bus stops, as well as bridges and pedestrian crossovers in the winter.

“We have a 24/7 response team always ready to go,” says John Parsons, Division Manager of Road Operations and Forestry.

London is divided into geographical beats (areas), each with a list of tasks for the crew to complete. That list starts with ‘priority’ roads that move more traffic including bus routes, have higher speed limits, and are used by people and emergency services to get to hospitals, schools and to travel in and out of the city. Sidewalk maintenance is also a priority, beginning when there is an accumulation of 8cms of snow.

“Our crews can get sidewalks down to snowpack condition within 48 hours after snow fall ends. Bus stop clearing starts right after that,” says Parsons. “Conditions will vary so it’s important to look out for each other and be mindful of everyone moving around the city.”

The City of London aims to clear all City streets within 24 hours after the snowfall ends, unless snowfall resumes and a certain level of accumulation is met, requiring them to reset the process. Service requests are accepted only after the Minimum Maintenance Standards have been exhausted.

What Streets Get Plowed First

The City of London maintains roadways in accordance with the Provincial Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways (MMS), Regulation 239/02. These standards categorize roads, including adjacent bike lanes, into five main classes. Class 1, 2 and 3 take priority. Class 4 and 5, which include local streets and some cul-de-sacs, are cleared after the priority roads are complete.

  • Class 1 Examples: Highbury Avenue, Wellington Road, Exeter Road, Fanshawe Park Road
  • Class 2 Examples: Southdale Road, Oxford Street, Dundas Street, Wharncliffe Road
  • Class 3 Examples: Viscount Road, Dufferin Avenue, Colborne Street Cycle Track
  • Class 4 Examples: Aldersbrook Road, Doon Drive, Tweedsmuir Avenue
  • Class 5 Examples: Local streets and some cul de sacs

Be a Good Neighbour

City crews remove snow on the public right of way, so it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain access to their property. According to the City of London Streets By-law, snow from your property must be dealt with on your property. Moving snow from your laneway to the street or sidewalk affects road safety, creates obstructions for fellow road users and impacts the City's snow clearing operations.

This winter, we encourage you to work closely with neighbours to find common solutions. Simple actions, such as shoveling the sidewalks in front of your home, and your neighbour’s home, improves mobility for everyone. If able, consider reaching out to an older adult, or someone with a disability in your community this year.

Rethink Your Ride

Road, sidewalk, and pathway conditions shift and vary during winter months. Londoners are encouraged to check the weather before leaving your home to anticipate potential snow falls and disruptions to mobility and transportation. Consider letting someone else do the driving, and take London Transit for a safe and more economical way to travel. Remember that all LTC buses are equipped with bike racks in the case that pathways are not cleared yet on your way to work. And if you see someone struggling in the snow, please help one another when it is safe to do so.

Park Pathways

The Thames Valley Parkway and some park pathways throughout the city are cleared to a recreational trail standard after an accumulation of 8 cm of snow, 24 hours after the snowfall ends. Similar to our sidewalks, park pathways are left in a snowpack condition. Pedestrians and cyclists using these paths should check the weather forecast before using them to anticipate potential snowfall and changes in path conditions.

Salt Use

Salt use is kept to a minimum by City of London with approximately one third of the roads being salted. It is spread only on main roads starting at the beginning snowfall and throughout the snow removal process to help prevent the adhesion of snow or ice to the road. A technique known as “anti-icing” is also used involving the application of salt brine mixed with beet juice (desugared sugar beet molasses) to the road prior to a storm, which allows crews to use even less salt once the snow starts falling. Anti-icing helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the road surface.

Reducing salt use on private property can decrease negative impacts to our environment. Residents are reminded to consider shoveling snow from your property’s walkways and driveways before it becomes packed down, which can reduce ice from forming. Also remember to check your downspouts and control drainage on your property. Direct water towards grassed areas to prevent ice forming on paved areas.

Parking

From November 1 - April 15, overnight parking passes will not be issued more than 48 hours in advance due to the possibility of inclement weather, when snow plows may need access to City streets. A message will be posted on the overnight parking registry when a snow event is in effect, please check prior to parking your vehicle on the street if you have previously applied for an overnight pass. Parking enforcement will occur during a snow event.

Londoners can visit london.ca/snow or follow the City of London on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest snow removal updates once crews have been deployed.