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Snow Zones and Routes

What is a Snow Zone?

The City is geographically divided into 11 Snow Zones, lettered A-K. Snow Zones contain several neighbourhoods and are used for scheduling and communicating the snow plowing schedule. If you don’t know your Snow Zone, you can find it here: Find Your Snow Zone.

What is a Route?

We use a coloured Route system to identify different types of streets and their priority for salt, sand and plowing. Streets are divided into one of six coloured routes:

  • Purple Routes: hills, bridges, hazards and hospital routes
  • Red Routes: arterial roads
  • Blue Routes: downtown streets
  • Green Routes: collector roads and bus routes (plowed during Snow Zone plowing)
  • Grey Routes: residential streets (plowed during Snow Zone plowing)
  • Orange Routes: industrial roads

Each Route is plowed at different times depending on snowfall and conditions. Visit When do we plow? to learn more.

Does plowing always start in Snow Zone A?

No, plowing starts in a different Snow Zone each time residential plowing is triggered. Check the Schedule to see if your Snow Zone has been scheduled for plowing.

Residential plowing (Green and Grey Routes)

When will you plow residential streets?

We start our residential plowing program, called Snow Zone plowing, once the snow pack reaches 10 centimetres on the roads. This generally takes about 30-40 cm of snowfall, depending on temperature and other factors.

Snow Zone plowing coordinates plowing on Green and Grey Routes. Green Routes are plowed to bare pavement and the snow is removed, while Grey Routes are plowed to a five cm snowpack with windrows on both sides of the road. Check the Schedule to see if your street has been scheduled for plowing. 

Learn more about our Snow Zone Plowing Program.

How will I know when Snow Zone Plowing has been triggered?

Sign up for Snow Zone alerts with Notify Red Deer to receive a text, email or phone call when Snow Zone plowing begins. We will also let you know when your Snow Zone is scheduled for plowing so you know to move your vehicle off the street.

In addition to Snow Zone Alerts, the start of Snow Zone plowing will be communicated on electronic message board signs in your neighbourhood, on The City’s Facebook and Twitter pages and through local media.

How do I find out when my street will be plowed?

We start Snow Zone Plowing once Green and Grey Routes reach a 10 cm snowpack. A number of tools are available to help you find out when your Snow Zone will be plowed:

  • Sign up to receive Snow Zone alerts by text, email or phone and we will let you know when your Snow Zone is scheduled. Sign up using Notify Red Deer.
  • Check the Schedule. Search by address or by Snow Zone to know when you can expect to see plows in your neighbourhood.
  • Call the Snow Zone hotline at 403-406-8796.
  • Watch for no parking signs around your neighbourhood. Remember, we don't put signs on every street; when Grey Routes are plowed, signs are placed at the entrances to each neighbourhood.
Why aren’t “no parking” signs used on every street during Snow Zone plowing?

It takes significant resources to sign individual streets, and our resources are focused on plowing to ensure streets can be plowed quickly and efficiently. Signs are used as follows:

  • Green Routes: The red “No Parking” signs are placed on streets approximately every 50 metres, at least 12 hours in advance of plowing.
  • Grey Route: Large signs are placed at the entrances to neighbourhoods at least 12 hours in advance of plowing.

Avoid a parking ticket this winter! Sign up for Snow Zone Alerts with Notify Red Deer to receive a text, email or phone call reminder when it's time for you to move your vehicle off the streets.

Why can’t you knock on doors to let residents know they need to move their car instead of issuing tickets?

Going door to door is not a sustainable practice given the size of our growing city; our resources are focused on plowing to ensure our streets are safe and drivable.

We do send text, email and phone alerts to Notify Red Deer users before each Snow Zone is plowed so residents know to move their vehicles.

Notify Red Deer

Will there be windrows?
Green Routes

Snow is removed from Green Routes so there are no windrows. Green Routes are collector routes, meaning they typically have higher traffic volumes and provide access from residential streets to arterial routes, transit routes and schools. Removing snow from Green Routes helps to keep traffic moving efficiently after a snowfall.

Grey Routes

These streets are surface plowed to a 5 cm snowpack with windrows on both sides of the street. Windrows from driveways facing the street are cleared by City crews and added to the existing windrows on the street.

Note: Your Snow Zone and Route are determined by your street address, which may be different than your driveway access.

What if I’m going to be away for an extended period of time? What if residential plowing starts while I’m away?

According to The City’s Traffic Bylaw 3186/97 (pdf) , a vehicle can’t be left parked on the street for longer than 72 hours, so if you’re out of town for an extended period of time you should make alternate arrangements for parking, especially during the winter. Make use of your off-street parking spots or make arrangements with a family member or friend to move your vehicle and ensure your sidewalks are cleared.

Snow and Ice Operations

What triggers snow plowing in the city?

During a typical snowfall, here’s when we plow roads:

RouteLocationTrigger/Target
Purple Hills, bridges, overpasses, high hazard
locations and hospital access.
Plow within 8 hours of 5 cm accumulation.
Red Major arterial roads Plow within 72 hours of 8 cm accumulation.
Zone D
(Downtown)
Downtown roads Plow and remove within 4 days of
10 cm snow pack (30-40 cm accumulated snowfall).
Plowing happens overnight (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
Green Collectors, Transit Routes, and
residential streets adjacent to schools
Plow and remove within 15 days of a 10 cm snow pack (30-40 cm accumulated snowfall).
Grey Residential streets Plow within 15 days of a 10 cm snow pack (30-40 cm accumulated snowfall); plowed to a 5 cm snow pack and windrows on both sides of the street.
Orange Industrial and commercial areas  Plow within 5 days of a 15 cm snow pack, plowing can start prior to the 15 cm trigger when it makes operational sense to do so.

We also clear snow for sidewalks, trails and transit stops:

 Trigger
Sidewalks Within three days of a snow event.
Trails Five centimetre snow pack in select Waskasoo Park trails
Transit stops Within 10 days of a snow event.
Why are roads only sanded sometimes and not plowed?

Sanding provides traction control, while plowing is only required when there is an excess accumulation of snow on the road. For snowfall events that do not meet the plowing triggers, a sand and salt mixture will be applied to provide traction control. To learn more about sanding, visit When do we salt and sand?

When will transit routes be cleared?

Transit routes are classified as Green Routes and are cleared as part of the Snow Zone Plowing program. We plow Green Routes once the snowpack reaches 10 cm and haul the snow away.

Note: This does not include school bus routes.

Windrows and Parking

Why can’t you remove the snow instead of leaving windrows?

There is a significant cost to removing all the snow from streets, and we currently do not have capacity at The City’s two snow storage sites to handle snow from residential streets.

Residents can hire a private Snow Clearing Contractor to clear windrows from Grey Routes. Private contractors must have a valid Seasonal Use of Streets Permit and snow removed cannot be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property or taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply).

Where am I going to park if there are windrows on both sides of the street?

The City’s Land Use Bylaw requires that all single dwellings and duplexes must have a minimum of two off-street parking spots. These parking spots can either be in the front or rear of the lot.

On Grey Routes, the snowpack is plowed to five centimetres and windrows are left on both sides of the street. If you wish to park on the street, you can clear the windrow or hire a private contractor to do it. Private contractors must have a valid Seasonal Use of Streets Permit to clear windrows from driveways and streets. Snow removed from driveways or streets can’t be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property or taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply).

Will there be breaks in the windrows?

We create breaks in the windrows for front driveways, back lane access, fire hydrants and where residents have an on street City-approved handicapped sign.  

Where can I park if I live on a Close or a Cul-de-Sac?

In accordance to The City’s Traffic Bylaw, motor vehicles are required to be parked parallel to the curb, including in Closes and Cul-de-Sacs. By parallel parking, there is adequate space to provide one row of parking, a driving lane and a snow storage pile in the centre.

How do I contest a parking ticket?

If you feel that your parking ticket was issued in error and you are not guilty of the offence, a request for a review can be made. Visit Appeal Your Ticket to learn more.

Seasonal Use of Streets Permits

What is a Seasonal Use of Street Permit?

A Seasonal Use of Street Permit allows private contractors to clear windrows from driveways and streets. Snow removed from driveways or streets can’t be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property or taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply). Contractors will need to register with Public Works before using a snow storage site. Please contact Public Works at 403-342-8238 for more information.

How do I get a Use of Streets Permit?

You can apply for a Seasonal Use of Streets Permit by filling out the application form. Please read the form carefully to ensure you meet all of the requirements. Visit the Snow clearing contractors page for more details.

How much does the permit cost?

If you have a valid City of Red Deer business license, there is no fee to apply; otherwise a $50 fee applies.

Are there any restrictions on how often or when private contractors can plow?

Yes, contractors can only plow after City crews have left the Snow Zone.

Snow Zone Alerts/Notify Red Deer

What are Snow Zone alerts?

We send text, email or phone notifications using Notify Red Deer to let you know when Snow Zone Plowing has started and when your Snow Zone is scheduled so you can move your vehicle off the street.

Sign up for Notify Red Deer and select Snow Zone Alerts.

Can I sign up for Snow Zone alerts for more than one address?

Yes, when you sign up for Notify Red Deer, you can enter any location that you wish to receive alerts for (home, work, school or daycare, family members' homes). You will then receive Snow Zone alerts for all addresses entered in Notify Red Deer.

I was previously signed up for Snow Zone email alerts. Is this the same thing?

In the past, we used an email subscription service to send out Snow Zone Alerts. As of November, 2017, we will only use Notify Red Deer to send out Snow Zone Alerts. If you haven't already, you will need to sign up for Notify Red Deer to receive Snow Zone Alerts - you can decide if you want to receive alerts by email, text or a phone call.

We will no longer be using the old email subscription service.

Snow and Ice Clearing on Sidewalks

Which sidewalks does The City of Red Deer clear?

Public Works staff clear more than 95 kilometres of sidewalks throughout the city after each snowfall and aim to do so within three days of a snow event. Generally, sidewalks are cleared as follows:

  • Red and Green routes: The City will clear both sides of the street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters for sidewalks on hills, bridges, arterials, downtown streets, and collector streets.
  • Green and Orange routes: In order to provide connectivity, The City will clear one side of the street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters. However, if there is private property on the other side of the street, the City will not clear the sidewalk on either side of the street. In this case the property owner is responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to their property.

Please refer to the Sidewalk Clearing Map (pdf)  for a visual of sidewalk clearing responsibility.

Visit the Sidewalk and Trail Clearing page for more information.

Do I have to clear the sidewalk on my property?

Residents are required to clear city sidewalks on their property that are adjacent to the roadway within 48 hours of when snow or ice was deposited. Failure to clear the sidewalk could result in a fine and a City crew being dispatched to clear the sidewalk at the resident's expense. For more details, please refer to Section 82 of the Traffic Bylaw.

The bylaw does not require residents to clear snow and ice from the sidewalk leading to their house, however, delivery services (including newspaper and mail delivery) may be interrupted if the sidewalk is not clear. Residents are encouraged to maintain safe and accessible sidewalks on their property.

Who is impacted by mandatory sidewalk snow removal?

Section 82 of the Traffic Bylaw, which mandates 48-hour sidewalk snow removal, includes all land zoned Commercial, Residential and Direct Control as well as land used for schools.

Who is responsible for sidewalk snow removal on rental property?

Although a landlord may pass the task of snow removal on to a tenant, the landowner is ultimately responsible for keeping the sidewalk clear.

How is the Bylaw enforced?

Municipal bylaw officers respond to complaints received through the RCMP complaint line. In areas such as downtown, Bylaw Officers may actively look for infractions.

How do I register a complaint?

If you would like to report a bylaw infraction, please call the RCMP non-emergency complaint line at 403-343-5575.

How are sidewalk snow removal complaints handled?

A probable scenario:

The RCMP receives a complaint from a citizen, Canada Post Representative, utility meter reader or newspaper/flyer carrier. A City Bylaw Officer confirms that 48 hours have passed since the last snowfall. The sidewalk is inspected. If the sidewalk is in violation of the bylaw, the following actions will be taken: First offence within a winter: A warning notice is issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not shovelled within 24 hours of the warning notice, a ticket will be issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not cleared within 48 hours of the ticket being issued, City crews will be sent to remove the snow at the owner's expense. Second and subsequent offences within a winter: A ticket is issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not cleared within 48 hours of the ticket being issued, City crews will be sent to remove the snow at the owner's expense.

What penalties do I face if I do not clear my sidewalk?

Snow removal fines are $35, plus the cost of The City clearing snow which for an average-sized residential sidewalk could exceed $100.

Where do I put the snow?

According to the Traffic Bylaw:

  • Snow, ice and other debris from driveways can’t be placed on the road, but snow from immediately adjacent sidewalks can be placed on the road.
  • Any person who places snow and ice from their driveway onto the street has 24 hours to remove it from the road, or The City could remove the snow and recover the costs from the person responsible

When possible, shovel snow and ice onto an adjacent boulevard or yard, or onto your property.

What about people who can not shovel their own walk?

Seniors or disabled citizens, who may have difficulty clearing their sidewalk are encouraged to make arrangements with a neighbour, a friend or family member.

Where can I get sidewalk sand?

Residents and business owners can pick up free sand for ice control on the sidewalks in front of their property. The sandbox is located beside the large white tent outside of the City Civic Yards at 7721 40 Avenue, North of the main front entrance gate. Please remember to bring your own sand pail and shovel.